Was This Walmart Doing A Bad Thing By Being Closed On Easter But Asking Employees To Work?

When a store says it’s closed on Easter so its employees can spend time with their families, does that mean the entire store should be a ghost town? Or is it okay to have a volunteer skeleton crew in to keep things moving behind the scenes? And should the workers who do volunteer to come in be paid extra for giving up their holiday? These questions and more are being debated about a Walmart Supercenter in Maine.

Last night on Reddit, a user posted the above photo in reference to a Walmart in Auburn, ME, which apparently had a sign on its door explaining that it was closed for Easter Sunday so that employees could enjoy the holiday with their loved ones, but which also had associates working inside while it remained closed to the public.

(Note: The Walmart in the image does not appear to be the actual store, but is presumably being used just to indicate that it’s about a Walmart store)

There is much debate in the Reddit discussion about whether or not this is true, even though the user who posted the image cited the location and phone number of the store in subsequent comments.

We contacted Walmart to see what it had to say.

A rep for the retailer confirmed to Consumerist that this store, along with others in Maine, was closed because state law requires that retailer locations over a certain size close their doors on certain holidays, including Easter.

So yes, it was closed, but only because Maine law required it to be closed for the day. Some might say it’s insincere to claim that the location was closed for the benefit of the employees. Others might say it just sounds better than saying “The state made us do this.”

What about the employees working inside?

The rep from Walmart HQ claims that all the associates who came in yesterday did so on a voluntary basis. The total number of volunteers was about 20 at the Auburn store.

As for wages, the volunteers were paid their standard wages, confirmed the rep, rather than any special holiday pay.

There are multiple ways to think about this situation.

On the one hand, one could argue that some volunteers may have felt obligated to work yesterday just to keep paying the bills and because management rarely looks poorly at an associate who chooses to come in on a holiday without seeking bonus pay.

On the other hand, there’s the argument that Walmart had to close these stores yesterday and that the volunteer-worker option was a way to work around the state law and get these employees paid.

And there will be some on both sides who contend that anyone working on Easter Sunday deserves an extra dollar or two per hour, regardless of whether or not they volunteered.

Here’s where you vote: