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US – Temp Workers Sue Wal-Mart, Staffing Firms

October 23 2012

A group of 20 Chicago-area workers have filed a wage and hour lawsuit against Walmart and two staffing firms — QPS Employment Group Inc. and Labor Ready-Midwest Inc.

The lawsuit filed on Monday seeks class action status. According to the suit, Walmart contracts with staffing firms for hundreds of temporary laborers in its stores in and around Chicago.

Incidents alleged in the lawsuit began in October 2009, according to the complaint, and include:

  • Walmart on multiple occasions required workers to work through lunch breaks or stay late to finish work without compensation.
  • Walmart and Labor Ready required workers to attend a safety training but did not compensate them for their time.
  • Walmart and Labor Ready required workers to appear at least 10 minutes to 15 minutes early for their shifts but did not compensate them.
  • Labor Ready assigned temps for a period of less than four hours in a single work day but did not pay them the required minimum of four hours of pay.
  • Walmart failed to provide laborers with necessary work verification forms signed by a Walmart supervisor to verify the total number of hours worked. The suit said such documentation is required under the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act.
  • Walmart failed to send accurate records of “hours worked” to staffing firms. The suit seeks $500 in damages for each violation.
  • Labor Ready and QPS didn’t provide laborers with an “employment notice” which includes the nature of the work to be performed as well as wages offered, among other things. The suit seeks $500 in damages for each violation.
  • Labor Ready and QPS didn’t provide laborers with wage payment notice at the time of payment of wages in the form of an itemized statement on laborer’s pay stub or separate form. That notice would include the name, address and telephone number of each third-party client at which the laborer worked. The suit seeks $500 in damages for each violation.

A Walmart spokesman said the firm is studying the complaint.

“We’re still reviewing the complaint but, based on the [United Food & Commercial Workers International Union] press release, one thing is clear: This litigation is being driven by the same union organizations that have been mischaracterizing several issues about Walmart and are more concerned with creating publicity than with improving workers’ rights,” Dan Fogleman, a Walmart spokesman, said in a statement.

“We are committed to ensuring that anyone working in our stores — whether they’re employed by Walmart or, in this case, a temporary staffing agency — is treated appropriately and compensated fairly for every hour they work,” Fogleman said.

A spokeswoman for TrueBlue Inc., the parent company of Labor Ready, also addressed the suit.

“TrueBlue is a recognized compliance leader in our industry we value the fair and ethical treatment or our workers and we have policies and procedures in place designed to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations including wage and hour laws,” said Stacey Burke, vice president of corporate communications at TrueBlue.

All large employers face route employment lawsuits such as this one, Burke said. “We believe the claims in the case against us are without merit. We are going to work and support our customer to defend the lawsuit.”

QPS cannot comment on the lawsuit at this time because the company has not yet been served with the complaint, Chief Operating Officer Dan McNulty said in a statement on Tuesday.

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