Washington Wal-Marters Sue For Overtime

September 12, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - When it rains, it pours, they say -- and the nation's largest employer finds itself presented with yet another employee-based lawsuit.

Two former Wal-Mart employees have filed a lawsuit asserting that Wal-Mart systematically required employees to work unpaid overtime and threatened to fire those who complained. The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of all current and former employees of Wal-Mart’s 30 Washington state stores.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said that while the firm had not seen the details of the case, company policy is to pay employees for all the time they work.

Locked Up?

Plaintiffs Tamra Moore of Snohomish County and Debra Barnett of King County say their employer kept employees locked in the store for hours, without pay, until managers had completed checks of every department. The suit also alleges that employees were often required to skip meal breaks and rest periods, work overtime and attend meetings and training sessions, all without being reimbursed.

The suit said employees were pressured to do so through intimidation and threats they would be fired, according to the Associated Press.

The plaintiffs are seeking back pay, plus overtime, for each hour they were required to work but say they were not paid.

Piling Up

Similar lawsuits are pending in New York, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, California, Iowa, Oregon, Georgia and Kentucky (see Employee Suits Spring Up At Wal-Mart ).

The company employs about 8,900 people in Washington’s 30 Wal-Mart stores and two Sam’s Club outlets.

Last December, Washington State took over Wal-Mart’s workers’ compensation program, accusing the retailer of failing to pay appropriate benefits to injured workers despite warnings and fines. Wal-Mart had been managing its own comp claims in the state for the prior 7 years.

– Nevin Adams                            editors@plansponsor.com

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