Kmart is reportedly giving some of its employees a tough choice for the upcoming holiday — either come in to work on Thanksgiving or be fired.
The retail chain is one of many coming under fire for creeping the traditional Black Friday 2014 sales into Thanksgiving itself. The store will open at 6 a.m. on Thursday and remain open for 42 hours, leaving stores strapped for employees and often denying requests for time off.
The controversy over Kmart’s Thanksgiving hours was made public thanks to Jillian Fisher, who started a petition on Coworker.org calling on Kmart to give its employees time off to spend with family.
Fisher also collected information from Kmart workers nationwide, who told her that management was forcing them to work on the holiday. One employee claimed that the store’s human resources department told employees, “if you do not come to work on Thanksgiving, you will automatically be fired … I made the request to work a split shift on Thanksgiving and was denied.”
“I am a lead at a Kmart and it is mandatory for me to work on Thanksgiving,” another Kmart worker noted. “If I were to call out I would be terminated, and requesting off is not allowed.”
Fisher said she understands that some employees need the money the will make from working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, but said Kmart should give the ones who want to stay home with family the option to do so.
“Kmart covers its shameless act of greed by stating that it is giving its employees more time to make money,” she wrote. “Kmart: have you even talked to your employees about your holiday hours and what they will be required to work? The answer is no. We are almost 2 weeks away from Kmart stores being open 42 hours straight, and employees — even after asking management about what hours they will be required to work — still have not received information about their schedules during this time.”
Like other retailers, Kmart is falling back on an excuse that the extended holiday hours are simply a response to consumer demand.
“This holiday season is all about giving more to our members and because many like to start shopping well before Black Friday, we’re excited to open our doors early on Thanksgiving and offer other early access opportunities for them to shop and save,” said Leena Munjal, senior vice president of Sears Holdings, the parent company of both Kmart and Sears, which merged in 2005.
Fisher said she plans to keep up the protest against Kmart until the retailer agrees to give employees the option to take off on Thanksgiving without being fired.