Legally, It’s The Retailer’s Prerogative To Be Open On Thanksgiving

More and more retail establishments are starting the holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving. Indeed, being open on Thanksgiving is becoming more the norm than the exception. Retail establishments need workers willing to work on Thanksgiving and other traditional holidays in order to open. However, what if you refuse to work on Thanksgiving or on another holiday? Can your job be in jeopardy?

The short answer is yes, your job could be in jeopardy if you refuse to work. There is no federal or state law requiring retail establishments or other employers to close for a holiday, even a federal holiday like Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day. Likewise, there is no federal or state law requiring an employer to pay you for a holiday if the employer is closed that day. Of course, any union contract or employment contract can change these general rules.

However, overtime rules still apply. Some employees may work more than a 40 hour workweek during the busy holiday shopping season, which can entitle them to overtime pay. In New Jersey, nonexempt employees receive “time and a half” for any overtime hours.

Thankfully, most employers aren’t grinches or scrooges. Some will offer incentives to entice employees to work on holidays, such as free meals and store discounts.