Oct 22 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
Longer strikes also took place at a Southern California
warehouse and at a distribution center in Illinois that supplies
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.,