During the heady days of the internet revolution, news stories abounded about young receptionists who became millionaires overnight when their stock options turned to gold. But something else was quietly happening that would have and continues to have a profound impact on California employers.
While workers at internet start ups were getting rich, retail managers were getting squeezed. Big-box retailers were revolutionizing the industry. As competition increased, profit margins decreased. Retailers cut costs. Staffing levels and payroll came under the microscope. As store staffing levels decreased, work shifted to the store manager whose fixed salary allowed unlimited work hours.
The contrast between workers in the two segments of the economy could not have been starker – between the haves and have nots. Not long thereafter, California saw the first wave of wage and hour class actions challenging the exempt status of the “working store manager.” For thousands of retail employees, it was the closest they would get to an unexpected windfall. Is it pure coincidence that the get rich quick days of the internet start up coincided in the retail industry with the dawn of the California wage and hour class action? What revolution is quietly shaping our workforce today? How will it impact us tomorrow?