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Premier Penalized $616,250 by California

November 22 2011

The California Labor Commissioner penalized a warehouse staffing provider in Southern California with $616,250 in citations, the Labor Commissioner’s office announced last week. The staffing provider, Premier Warehousing Ventures LLC, was the second such firm to be cited since October.

Premier received a citation for failure to provide employees with proper wage statements as well as failure to keep payroll records in California, according to the Labor Commissioner’s office.

Premier provided workers at a warehouse in Jurupa Valley, Calif., to a company called Schneider Logistics.

Failure to provide itemized wage statements to workers makes up $601,000 of the total citations, according to the Labor Commissioner’s office. Failure to keep records at the place of employment or another location in California was only calculated for one pay period resulting in a penalty of $15,250.

Premier had previously been issued a notice to discontinue reporting time violations and other violations during an inspection on Oct. 12.

Another staffing provider, Impact Logistics Inc., received $499,000 in citation last month also for violations at warehouses run by Schneider Logistics.

Both Premier and Impact Logistics paid workers on a piece rate system.

“It is the strong public policy of this state that workers are entitled to know what they have earned,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie Su. “Information is power, and when it comes to wages, that information must be transparent and shared. When an employer chooses to pay by the piece, this is even more critical. Employers cannot simply make up a piece rate and change it at their whim.”

Investigations of other violations are ongoing, according to the Labor Commissioner’s office. Those other possible violations include failure to pay for reporting time and stand-by time and illegal deductions of the workers’ pay.

Separately, a lawsuit seeking class action status was filed in October by six named plaintiffs against Schneider, Premier and Impact Logistics for conditions at Schneider warehouses in Jurupa Valley that serve Wal-Mart stores. The area of the warehouse is in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, where numerous warehouses and distribution facilities are located.

The lawsuit alleges the firms falsified records, did not state how they calculated wage payments, didn’t ensure meal and rest breaks, and retaliated against workers who asked questions, according to a court filing by plaintiffs. It claims workers saw their pay shrink after a piece rate system was put in place where workers were paid by group based on how many truck trailers were unloaded or loaded.

In a response filed with the court, Impact Logistics argued the claimants were not eligible for relief, that it did not willfully withhold wages and that it acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing its method of compensating workers was legal.

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