Wal-Mart is being slapped with a lawsuit that claims that the world's largest retailer and its staffing agencies broke federal minimum wage and overtime laws by requiring temporary workers to appear early for work, stay late to complete work and work through lunches and breaks without compensation.
According to the proposed class action suit that was filed Monday in the US District Court of Illinois Eastern Division, Labor Ready and QPS, two of the staffing agencies that the discounter used in the Chicago area, failed to provide workers assigned to the Wal-Mart stores with required employment information.
The suit also claims that Wal-Mart itself failed to keep accurate records of workers' time. That has made it difficult for workers to make claims that they were not paid by the temporary agencies for all hours worked. The suit also claims that the discounter and its staffing agencies also failed to pay the plaintiffs and others in similar situations a minimum of four hours pay on days when they were contracted for work, but not used for a minimum of four hours as required by Illinois law. That prevented the workers from looking for other jobs.
According to the suit, the alleged violations occurred beginning in early 2009 and continue up until the present time.
The suit seeks all unpaid wages for the workers and calls for an injunction against Wal-Mart and its temporary agencies preventing them from future violations of state labour laws.
Neither Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, nor Labor Ready immediately responded to requests for comment. Diane Gadzalinski, QPS's director of human resources, said she is currently reviewing the matter
The suit comes just after Wal-Mart faced a worker walk-out earlier this month ahead of its annual investor meeting that expanded to about dozen states. Still, the number of employees involved was less than 200, according to union officials. That's a tiny fraction of Wal-Mart's US workforce of 1.3 million workers at its namesake division. A group called Organization United for Respect at Walmart, or OUR Walmart, organised the walk-outs. The organisation, which is made up of current and former Wal-Mart workers, is backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.