Is it as fun for them as it is for us?
At first thought it might seem that for us Disney addicts working at one of the Disney parks would be a dream job. We’d spend our days surrounded by the Disney magic we love. Only I’m not so sure about that. I’d worry that my behind-the-scenes ticket to a Disney park would ruin a lot of the magic for me.
Now it seems like on top of that employment at Disney World might not even meet federal standards on working conditions. The Associated Press reported at the end of August that Walt Disney World owed some of its inventory control clerks $433,000 in back pay.
Inventory control clerks are responsible for organizing and regulating the stock inventory at retail, food, and other establishments. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that within the food and beverage department at Walt Disney World, the managers of 69 employees were not meeting off-the-clock payment regulations.
The worked hours under scrutiny here include time spent working from home, during breaks, and before and after shifts. Walt Disney World policy requires compensation for work completed during any of these periods, and that’s what’s under question. But execs at Disney World have done the right thing, and they will pay the wronged workers the above amount in their back wages.
Still, hearing something like this does not sell Disney World as a great place of employment to me. Not that, as I hinted above, I’d even think so. Disney World might be the Most Magical Place on Earth, but that’s likely not the case for many of its employees.
Growing up I lived in a town with an amusement park and I knew many people, including my brother, who worked there over the summer. The park had such a high employment turnover that they had to offer huge bonuses to people who stayed on for a second season, just to motivate them not to leave.
Hearing that some managers at Disney World might not adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act certainly does not help sell it, or make me want to promote it, as then the Most Magical Place to Work. I’m hoping that this was just some sort of fluke or misunderstanding, born from a lack of organization and not a willful ignorance of company policy and federal employment regulations. Not that the former is good, but it’s certainly better than the latter.
Maybe this sort of thing is more common than I’d like to believe, and it’s just made national news because it’s happened at an internationally known and generally trusted company. It’s just that between this and the workers striking at Disneyland Paris late last year, Disney Parks isn’t really looking like a model employer at the moment. Hopefully all of this attention will force them to crack down on their working standards.