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Can My Boss Make Work Thanksgiving Without Paying Me Extra? I Need A Wage Lawyer!

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2014 | Wage: Minimum Wage, Wage: Overtime |

Best Ohio Wage And Overtime Attorney Reply: Should I get paid extra for working on Thanksgiving or other holidays? Can I be forced to work on Thanksgiving? Can I be fired for refusing to work on a holiday?

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So as my fabulous wife is making our house smell glorious on my favorite holiday (because I like to eat), I’m sitting her watching football. One of the Bears offensive line jumped offside, and for some reason that set something off inside of me. My favorite holiday was being ruined by Christmas jumping offside. Well, not really Christmas but the mass of retailers that pretend to be spreading Christmas joy. There used to be a time when holiday music would come on radio stations a few weeks into December and Christmas sales would start as November turned into December. Then some retailer started have Black Friday sales that started at 8 a.m. Then another retailer moved it up to 6 a.m. Another upped the ante and moved the sale starting time to midnight. And now, radio stations are dedicating themselves Christmas music in early November and the sales starting on Thanksgiving. And, throw the yellow flag, Christmas has officially jumped offside and sacked Thanksgiving.

I have read other commentators suggest that consumers ignore the steep discounts and stay home on Thanksgiving. But, in today’s economy, many people have no choice but stretch every dollar as far as possible; and if this means sacrificing Thanksgiving time off to make sure that his or her child has the latest toy or video game, well, that is what a good parent will do.

I am being forced to work on Thanksgiving. I was fired for refusing to come into work on Thanksgiving. My boss will not pay me extra for working on holidays. Am I entitled to holiday pay?

However, some parents don’t have a choice to leave their families on Thanksgiving. Many parents, husbands, wives, and grandparents work for those retailers.  They are forced to work under threat of losing their jobs; and if you lose our job, it is not just buying toys that you have to worry about. So cancel Thanksgiving dinner, or maybe make it Thanksgiving lunch. Some resort to having Thanksgiving on Friday or Saturday, but is that really Thanksgiving?

There used to be a time when holidays were a sacred time to be with family, sleep in, or just simply get a reprieve from work. Now, holidays are just marketing events. I will bet you that more people gather around the table and talk about Black Friday (or now Black Week) or Cyber Monday deals than Pilgrims and Native Americans. Heck, I bet you that a large percentage of people will simply say at the dinner table that “I’m thankful for the cheap [insert large piece of electronic equipment].”

As an employment lawyer, we often get asked at this time of year about holiday pay and hours.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) governs wages and hours. However, the FLSA provides for the payment of a minimum wage per hour worked and requirements for payment of overtime at time and half. So absent a collective bargaining agreement, your employer is not required to pay you extra pay for working on the holidays and designate your hours however it wants. Unfortunately, you can be fired for refusing to work on non-religious holidays, such as Thanksgiving or for declining to work overtime (absent medical or disability limitation of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) approval). So, retailer employers can demand that employees work on Thanksgiving without paying them extra if they don’t work over 40 hours for the week. But, just because it is legal does not mean that it is right.

So, this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for State Rep. Mike Foley, a Democrat from Cleveland, who recently proposed that Ohio amend its wage and hour law to force retailers to pay its workers triple normal wages if it forces them to work on Thanksgiving.  Although this law is unlikely to pass, at least it is a stand for what is right. If we don’t take a stand now, in a few years retail employees will be missing trick-or-treat for the start of the holiday sales.

So, thank you for retailers that stay closed today and still give us the option of shopping online, like Costco, Barnes & Noble, and Sam’s Club. You have earned my online business today.

If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of your wages for all of your lawfully earned overtime compensation at a rate of one and half times your normal wages as requires under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards laws or you are an nonexempt employee that has been misclassified as exempt or independent contractor, contact the attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. The wage and hour lawyers at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm will provide you with the best options for your overtime pay dispute situation. If you even think that you may be entitled to overtime pay that you are not being paid, call 866-797-6040.


The materials available at the top of this overtime, wage and hour web page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “Am I entitled to overtime?”, “Does my job have to pay me for …”, “My paycheck is not right…” or “What do I do if…”, the your best option is to contact an Ohio overtime attorney to obtain advice with respect to FLSA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.

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