Harrah’s is being sued for making workers show up early without overtime pay. From the LV Sun:
A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday is the latest in a series of class-action pay claims filed by Nevada workers.This week’s case is against Harrah’s Entertainment. The suit alleges Harrah’s requires workers to arrive 10 to 15 minutes before their shifts start but doesn’t pay them for the extra time.
“Ten minutes before each shift may not sound like much” but multiplied by thousands of workers and their daily shifts, the unpaid wages could add up to tens of millions of dollars, says Reno labor lawyer Mark Thierman, who filed the suit on behalf of Harrah's Las Vegas dealer Kimberley Daprizio.
Pre-shift meetings, which include pep talks by managers and reminders about job standards and expectations, are common practice in the casino business and other customer service industries.
via Pay for pre-shift meetings spurs suit against Harrah’s – Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | 2 a.m. – Las Vegas Sun.
I used to grumble about this back when I worked security, and I think that my experience there gives me some perspective.
First of all, you’re going to have to be in the building before your official start time to get changed. For a shift starting at 3, I’d usually show up at 2:40, have time to change into my uniform (a striking electric blue blazer, white shirt, and black pants), grab a quick soft drink at the employee cafeteria, and head down to the pre-shift meeting, which we called roll call. At roll call, we learned what was going on in the casino that night, which was helpful, because if guests are asking you where an event is, it’s nice to know it beforehand and not have to call around. Also, the shift manager could run down the schedule and confirm that everyone scheduled was in fact in the building and ready to take their post.
Roll call would usually start at about 10 minutes of, be done by 5 minutes of, giving us time to get down to our posts and relieve day shift promptly by 3. Officers on escorts could radio in their positions and be relieved directly by officers dispatched from roll call. The system wasn’t perfect, but it worked well. I don’t remember ever being asked to sing or dance. I was willing to accept the cost of reporting to work 10 minutes early as the price of being relieved on time at the end of my shift; if everyone showed up at the exact start of their shift and then found their assignments and went out to them, the shift they were relieving would be leaving late every day.
I said the system wasn’t perfect, but we had a better deal than the supervisors, who had to get in at least a half an hour early and, since they were salaried, didn’t get overtime. But they did usually get an early out on their Friday, meaning that things more or less worked out.
So if you require hourly workers to clock in early each shift, why not compensate them with an early out (paid) on their Friday? By the end of the shift, most departments have personnel to spare since their breakers are done giving breaks. It costs the company marginally in increased wages (fewer spaces for unpaid early outs), but probably would generate good will in employees who feel that their time is valued.
It’s probably not a perfect system, but it’s better for both sides than rolling the dice in court.
I would also keep pre-shifts to a minimum–maybe five minutes at the most. Let them know what’s happening in the building, any big events, any HR stuff they need to do, give out commendations, and send them on their way. If you want employees to sing and dance, sponsor a quarterly talent show. I honestly can’t imagine any chain of events in which doing a song and dance before starting work would make me a more effective employee, and I don’t see how it would help other people either, unless their job was singing and dancing.