Workers Rights in the Retail Industry

At 58 and with several decades of middle management experience at two

Fortune 500 companies, I found myself out-placed and had to take a

sales clerk job at a large national convenience store chain. I am

disturbed to learn, despite worker policies in the previous large

manufacturing companies, that during the eight-hour shift now, in this

convenience store, no breaks, other than bathroom breaks, are allowed

– no rest break, no meal break whatsoever. In fact we are told we are

to be moving at all times or risk being fired on the spot. Waiting on

customers, cleaning the store, stocking shelves, and doing all the

other job assignments is rather tiring over such a long shift with no

break. This is all standing and no sitting whatsoever.

My question is: is this policy legal. Are there laws or regulations,

Federal or state, (this is in Virginia) which protect workers in this

situation? If not are there any resources that might help here – for

example a national union that would take an interest in this or a

governmental agency that might take notice?

(I'm sorry that I can only offer $4.00 – but my finacial situation is

not so good anymore)

One thought on “Workers Rights in the Retail Industry

  1. Dear amsterdam,

    I'm very sorry your employer is not taking your comfort and well-being

    into consideration while you're working. It clearly doesn't make you

    happy to be employed there.

    Unfortunately, this poor treatment is legal, and you have little

    recourse under either state or federal laws.

    The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act covers many aspects of

    employment. However, according to the FLSA Advisor, the act does

    *not* mandate:

    1) vacation, holiday, severance, or sick pay;

    (2) meal or rest periods, holidays off, or vacations;

    (3) premium pay for weekend or holiday work;

    (4) pay raises or fringe benefits;

    (5) a discharge notice, reason for discharge, or immediate payment of

    final wages to terminated employees; and

    (6) pay stubs or "W-2"s.

    These are left up to the individual states.

    FLSA Advisor – "What the FLSA does not require."

    [ ]

    There is a walkthrough explaining the FLSA here:

    FLSA Advisor

    [ ]

    Rest periods are only *required* by the following states:








    US Department of Labor – Minimum Rest Period Requirements Under State

    Law For Employees in Private Sector

    [ ]

    Meal breaks are only *required* in the following states:












    New Hampshire

    New York

    North Dakota


    Rhode Island



    West Virginia


    Puerto Rico

    US Department of Labor – Minimum Length of Meal Period Required Under

    State Law For Employees in Private Sector

    [ ]

    There may be help for you and your fellow employees, however, if

    you're all willing to unionize. It can be a tough process, but can

    also have great benefits, including improvement in working conditions.

    Employees of retail food stores (including grocery and convenience

    stores) often turn to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union

    (UFCW), an international union affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

    The UFCW explains member benefits and how to get a union for your

    place of employment here:

    UFCW – Open the Door to a Better Future

    [ ]

    You can also review the entire UFCW site, to see if a union is right

    for you, by starting here:

    United Food And Commercial Workers Union

    [ ]

    Good luck, amsterdam. I hope this helps you!

    Warm regards,


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