Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is facing a lawsuit that claims that the world’s biggest retailer and its staffing agencies broke federal minimum wage and overtime laws when it required temporary workers to appear early for work, stay late to complete their tasks, and work through breaks without compensation. The proposed class action lawsuit was filed Monday in the US District Court of Illinois Eastern Division.
According to the suit, QPS and Labor Ready, two of the staffing agencies that Wal-Mart utilizes in the Chicago area, failed to give workers assigned to the stores with the required employment data. The suit claims that Wal-Mart failed to keep accurate records of workers’ time. This made it hard for workers to make proper claims that they were not paid by the temporary agencies for the overtime work.
The lawsuit also claims that Wal-Mart and the staffing agencies 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 the state of Illinois. This prevented workers from looking for other work.
According to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the supposed violations happened from early 2009 and continue up to the present. The lawsuit seeks all the unpaid wages for the employees and wants an injunction against Wal-Mart and its staffing agencies to prevent them from violating state labor laws in the future.
Dan Fogleman, Wal-Mart spokesman, said that the retailing giant is reviewing the complaint. It said that the lawsuit was made by the same union organizations that have been mischaracterizing various issues about Wal-Mart and are more concerned about publicity rather than improving works’ rights.
The lawsuit came after Wal-Mart faced a worker walk-out before its annual investor meeting. According to union officials, the number of employees involved was less than 200. This was just a small proportion of the company’s workforce of 1.3 million.