City Attorney Investigates Guitar Center
The employees say the manager is telling the City the store formerly had more than 55 employees but he had fired enough of them before the new law took effect on July 2nd to bring down the number of employees to 55, the cut off point requirement between the two differing wages. The contention is that the store still has more than 55 employees according to the employees and that even if the manager was correct that he had fired the requisite number of employees, the Ordinance provides for employee counts to be averaged over the preceding fiscal quarter and that average for Guitar Center was in excess of 55 employees. The manager failed to understand how employees are counted by the City before he started firing them they allege.
The Guitar Center is further violating the Minimum Wage Ordinance in other ways by misrepresenting the nature of its business the employees say. The manager is attempting to portray the Shellmound Street business as two businesses to the City in order to employ more than the 55 employee cut off by claiming a portion of the store, the so called 'Guitar Center studios', is a separate business they say. Further, the employees were not properly informed of their rights because the manager failed to post required documents they say.
An employee complainant who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisals from the store manager told the Tattler the employees at Guitar Center intend on forcing the store to obey the Ordinance and they expect to receive their legitimately earned back pay, "I was excited that the citizens of Emeryville agree with so many other Americans that people deserve to be paid a living wage. I find it disheartening that the Guitar Center is subverting that" the employee said of the new law and the manager's attempts to bypass it.
Michael Guina, Emeryville's City Attorney said the City is actively taking up the issue, "We're in the initial stages of the investigation of the Guitar Center employee's complaints. If we find evidence of wrong doing, we will work with the employer to make sure they comply with the ordinance".
Guitar Center, which is majority-owned by private equity firms Ares Management and former Republican Party presidential aspirant Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, has had a long history of labor strife including union quashing. The Nation did an expose piece in 2013 on Guitar Center's employee mistreatment centering on low employee pay and sleazy tactics.
The Emeryville store manager could not be reached for comment.