Service jobs already don’t pay enough. On top of servers mostly working for tips, some restaurants expect new workers to spend their own money on work uniforms. One new employee on TikTok shared the shocking cost of their new uniform—which they had to pay before even starting the job.
“Especially since we don’t get paid immediately! So I wait 3 weeks for my check and I have to get my own uniform?!” one commenter wrote.
Many people in the comments were left wondering whether it’s even legal for an employer to make workers pay for their own uniforms.
Many places, especially those with their logo on the uniform, like McDonald’s, give employees their work shirts and hats but leave the cost of pants and shoes on the worker. Other places, especially clothing brands, will provide employees with one or two outfits to wear on the job so they’re repping the brand on the sales floor.
When it comes to who pays for the work uniform, the type of uniform matters, as does the state you work in. In some states, something like a McDonald’s polo shirt that can’t be used as streetwear must legally be provided by the employer. But, if you work at a place where the uniform consists of items that can be reasonably worn outside of work, then the cost can be legally left up to the worker, law site NOLO reported.
Some states don’t allow employers to charge for uniforms at all. Others also have laws that prohibit discriminatory practices in uniforms. For example, in California, employers can’t prohibit female employees from wearing pants, so a uniform that only allows for a dress or skirt would be illegal at the state level.
Unfortunately, it seems TikToker Alexis (@alx8177) was not in a state with strong protections on who pays for a work uniform—because he spent nearly $200 on clothes to start a new job.
“I just feel like if I get a new job, the company should have provided the uniform for you. But I guess that’s not the case,” Alexis says. “… I have to buy my uniform head to toe b*tch.”
While some viewers speculated that “it’s giving Texas Roadhouse,” Alexis did not reveal the name of his new employer in the video.
In the video, Alexis gives a rundown of everything he bought and how much each item cost.
His uniform haul included a pair of $51 nonslip shoes, two pairs of bootcut jeans from American Eagle for $54 (they were cheaper because of a sale and credit for a return he made), a $27 black and silver belt from Target, white undershirts, and three button-downs from Old Navy for $30. The worker who helped Alexis at Old Navy gave him 50% off his items because they recognized him from TikTok.
“That was $180 for my uniform. I just. I’m just praying that this job is worth it and I don’t quit within the first few weeks,” Alexis says.
The video has garnered over half a million views and hundreds of comments as of Monday morning.
“They should definitely reimburse you for all of that,” a person said.
“I manage at saltgrass and if that’s where you working 10/10,” one commenter wrote. However, others had a different take: “If it’s saltgrass, RUN.”
“My job provides us with work pants, work shirts, sweatshirts, steel toe boots or tennis shoes &&&&&& they wash our uniforms and press them for us every week,” another viewer said, to which Alexis replied asking for a job application.
The Daily Do reached out to Alexis for comment via email.