Employer Actions Transcend Casual Treatment

April 17, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal appeals court decision that a grocery store chain must make pension contributions on behalf of those employees that they classified as "casual", was left standing by the US Supreme Court.

Kroger had classified all part-time employees as “casual”, but the district court found that part-time employees were not “casual” workers as defined by the collective bargaining agreement.

Employer Actions

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The court, in Kroger Co. v. Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund, found that workers were not hired on a short-term basis since the store had employed them expecting them to shift to full-time regular employee status once an opening occurred.

In the earlier ruling, the judge had noted that casual employment was defined as “short and indefinite” and therefore inconsistent with the fact that part-time employees were required to bid on permanent positions.

The court held that the grocer?s practice of treating the employees as “casual” workers for pension contribution purposes did not override “the unambiguous definition of casual employees contained in” the collective bargaining agreement.