Wal-Mart hit with minimum wage lawsuit as walkout threat looms

Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:59pm EDT

Oct 22 (Reuters) - A new lawsuit accused Wal-Mart Stores Inc and two staffing agencies of requiring temporary employees to show up early for work, stay late, and work through lunch at the world's largest retailer.

The proposed class action, filed on Monday in a Chicago federal court, alleged Wal-Mart and the agencies violated minimum wage and overtime laws which could affect several hundred temporary workers in the Chicagoland area.

Wal-Mart declined to comment immediately, saying it first needed to review the lawsuit.

Wal-Mart has faced protests in various U.S. cities lately and some workers have planned to walk off the job on Black Friday, the busy shopping day right after Thanksgiving. Such actions are being sponsored by a groups including a contingent of workers called OUR Walmart that is trying to speak out about what it says are tough working conditions.

In early October, workers who are part of OUR Walmart staged what the group called the first-ever strike against Walmart in Los Angeles, while Walmart itself called the event in Los Angeles a rally. Walmart store employees also walked off the job in other cities including Dallas in actions sponsored by OUR Walmart.

Longer strikes also took place at a Southern California warehouse and at a distribution center in Illinois that supplies Walmart stores.

OUR Walmart, a group of current and former Walmart employees, is backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. UFCW members work at grocery stores that compete with Walmart.

Wal-Mart has said that OUR Walmart represents just a small fraction of its 1.4 million U.S. employees.

Wal-Mart's labor practices have garnered criticism among consumers and have gotten attention in the press, but so far have not affected investors. Roughly half of Wal-Mart's stock is controlled by descendents of company founder Sam Walton.

In 2008 Wal-Mart agreed to pay as much as $640 million to settle dozens of federal and state class-action lawsuits alleging it deprived workers of wages. In separate litigation last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women suing Wal-Mart for gender discrimination could not proceed as a national class action.

The latest lawsuit in Chicago says Wal-Mart also failed to pay temporary workers a minimum of four hours' pay on days a laborer was contracted to work, but was not utilized for a minimum of four hours.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois is Twanda Burkes et al, on behalf of themselves and all other persons similarly situated, vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Labor Ready Midwest Inc. And QPS Employment Group Inc., 12-08457.

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Comments (6)
Tramlaw wrote:
The union is at it again. The union cannot stand that a business is working just fine without them. They want to get the dues. It would be more money for them to embezzle.

Oct 22, 2012 2:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
apk44 wrote:
just remember this .
Walmart is God and Walmart will crap down these people’s throat

Oct 22, 2012 5:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
drjohnwarren wrote:
Walmart has a long history of ignoring labor laws. Obviously, it is adopted the policy of waiting to get caught and then paying relatively tiny fines. What is needed is to hold individual store managers responsible and impose jail terms. The orders probably come down from corporate but when these middle-class fat-cats compare getting a bad job evaluation with spending 90 days in jail, they may think twice. Right now the attitude is “if I follow orders and things go bad, corporate will pay a fine, pat me on the back and business as usual.”

The same approach might work well with banks.

Oct 23, 2012 5:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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California state worker Albert Jagow (L) goes over his retirement options with Calpers Retirement Program Specialist JeanAnn Kirkpatrick at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES) - RTXPWOZ

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