Holiday Workers in the Beauty Industry: Are You Being Shorted on Pay and Breaks?

Are you working at a beauty salon or makeup counter such as at Sephora, Ulta, Nordstroms or Bloomingdales over the holidays? If you are a freelancer employed by an outside company, or an independent contractor performing your job much like your coworkers who are considered employees of the business you are working at, you are also entitled to breaks and overtime.

You work hard, and you deserve the benefits that you are legally entitled to! The Carter Law Firm can fight for you to ensure that you are properly paid for breaks and time worked. If you feel that you are not receiving breaks, are not being paid properly for hours worked, or if you are simply unsure of where you stand, we can provide you with some guidance.  

Department stores, as well as retailers like Ulta, Sephora, and Planet Beauty, don’t just hire employees to staff their makeup counters like they used to.  These companies now contract with outside companies to provide staffing or sign “independent contractors” to do these jobs. As a result, the managers (full-time employees of the retail companies) in charge of these workers are incentivized to deny workers breaks and to work them off the clock – since they aren’t even the ones responsible for paying them. 

Think about it: if you are a beauty section manager at Nordstrom’s, you would be sure to give Nordstroms’ employees proper breaks and full pay, because you’d get in trouble if they were shorted. But if the employees are just staffers coming from somewhere else, you’re instead incentivized to get maximum productivity at the lowest possible pay – or in other words to deny breaks and all hours worked.  There is simply no accountability.

On the losing end of this equation lies you, the outside firm makeup counter employee, part-time staffer, or “independent contractor.” 

If you are being cheated on time worked, overtime or breaks and are one of these outside company employees, you are due compensation.  And, if you are an “independent contractor” of the store at which you work, you are also being cheated. Employers owe their independent contractors fewer obligations than those they classify as employees. If they avoid paying them as employees, they do not have to provide benefits, thus increasing their profits. But calling you, the makeup counter worker, an “independent contractor” is illegal.  When companies do this, it is called “misclassification,” and the result is that you are owed unpaid overtime, un-provided benefits, missed break penalties, and so on. 

Not surprisingly, salons and department stores are moving toward a model where makeup artists are treated as independent contractors. According to the Professional Beauty Association, salons that don’t have any direct employees have grown 83% over the last ten years, while salons that have direct employees have only grown 16%.  This is wrong, and illegal.  same hours and doing the same work as your fellow coworkers that are employees, but you’re missing out on the employee benefits that those who are employees are receiving.

If you’re working in the beauty industry and you would like to find out more about worker classification, you can reach out to The Carter Law Firm confidentially. Our firm can help.