Like so many other holiday workers that are hired for temporary positions, Santa impersonators are exposed to violations of the minimum wage and overtime wage laws of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The use of subcontractors by large companies to hire temporary workers can lead to wage claim violations. Often it can be hard to identify the wage claim violation and track the violation to the temporary staffing company.
Though some Santa impersonators can earn $5,000 or up to $20,000 for their holiday time commitment, the majority of Santas make minimum wage. In their training Santas learn how to handle frightened children and frustrated parents. Every year the average mall Santa sees around 10,000 children during the holiday season. To meet the demands of customers and hear the wish lists of so many children Santas work long hours, however workers’ rights advocates warn that like their temporary worker counterparts Santas are at a high risk for wage theft.
Subcontractors that hire temporary seasonal workers can be hard to hold accountable because they may have limited assets and frequently go out of business. The general trend is that minimum wage and overtime wage lawsuits are on the rise. The rise in lawsuits can mean a rise in abuse of workers’ rights. Since 2000, minimum wage and overtime payment lawsuits have increased by 134 percent and since 2005 the same type of lawsuits have increased by 49 percent.
In response to the rise in wage lawsuits, Congressional lawmakers have introduced the Wage Theft Prevention Act that would allow workers to file private lawsuits as the Department of Labor investigates employers. The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Source: In These Times, “On Workers’ Christmas List: An End to Wage Theft,” Kari Lyderson, 12/13/10