As our Riverside, California employment lawyer blog discussed in a recent post, last month, California State Labor Department investigators discovered staggering wage and hour violations at a giant warehouse that handles Wal-Mart goods. The investigators discovered that of two staffing agencies, supplying the temporary manual labor to the massive Mira Loma, California warehouse--operated by a Wal-mart-contractor, Schneider Logistics--failed to keep accurate records of how much money the low-wage workers were properly owed.
One staffing firm, Impact Logistics, Inc. was fined $499,000 for not properly providing itemized wage statements to the over 200 workers who load and unload Wal-Mart products into the warehouse facility. Impact was also issued a warning for neglecting to maintain time records.
Last week, California's Labor Commissioner, Julie A. Su, slapped the second staffing firm, Premiere Warehousing Ventures, with fines that total over $600,000--after state inspectors discovered that the staffing agency had engaged in multiple California wage and hour violations, including denying employees overtime compensation. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the company neglected to provide employees with proper wage statements, and failed to let them see their payroll records--as required by state and federal law.
According to Julie A. Su, California State Labor Commissioner, many workers also may not have received proper payment for all hours worked. Su claimed that the ever-increasing layers of subcontracting in warehouse work can make it difficult to enforce labor laws, especially when subcontractors make a deliberate effort to avoid labor compliance.
The Riverside warehouse is one of a large network of warehouses in the Inland Empire region of California--receiving electronics, clothing and other goods from China that are headed for nationwide retail stores.
According to the Huffington Post, some of the country's largest retailers use warehouses in this area, yet the workers are actually employed through the many layers of subcontracting--affecting the accountability of worker rights and protections. The workers, mostly Latino, are often hired to work on a temporary basis and make around minimum wage--leading them to be more vulnerable to labor and employment abuses like wage theft, with no meal and lunch breaks. Many of these workers are also paid according to a piece-rate schedule that is reportedly confusing--so they often don't know how much they are being paid, and aren't showed their paychecks.
Workers are suing both agencies, as well as the Schneider, the company that manages the Wal-Mart distribution center--claiming that they were underpaid intentionally due to an unlawful employment scheme to depress the workers' wages through outsourcing and subcontractor layering, were pressured to work under conditions that were dangerous, and denied overtime compensation. Schneider Logistics was also hit with another class action wage and hour lawsuit earlier this year, by workers from a Schneider-run Wal-Mart distribution center outside Chicago.
Schneider stated that they have cooperated with the investigation, and expect the agencies that they work with for staffing to also comply with all federal and California labor laws.
Contact Howard Law, PC today, to discuss your Riverside County, California labor and employment rights.
Inland Empire warehouse staffing firm fined over alleged labor violations, November 18, 2011
Warehouse Workers At Wal-Mart-Contracted Facility Allege Abusive Conditions, Wage Theft, The Huffington Post, October 18, 2011
Federal Court Issues TRO Requiring Wal-Mart Warehouses to Comply with Law Warehouse Workers United Press Release, October 2011
Walmart Warehouse Under Investigation By California Labor Officials, The Huffington Post, October 14, 2011
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Riverside Warehouse Investigated by CA Labor Officials, Sued by Workers for Wage Theft, Abusive Conditions, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 16, 2011
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DOL Continues to Track Down Federal Wage and Hour Law Violations in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 8, 2011
Another DOL Investigation Brings Restaurant Employees $275K in Overtime Back Wages, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 18, 2011
Wal-Mart Supreme Court Ruling May Not Affect Wage and Hour Claims, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 14, 2011
Mexican Restaurants To Pay Over $1M in Back Wages and Overtime, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 1, 2011
Feds Crack Down on Wage and Hour Violations in NY Restaurants, California Employment Lawyers Blog, April 15, 2011
DOL Wage and Hour Division Audits for Low Wage Industry Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 20, 2010
New Study Reveals More Abuse of Low-wage Workers in Los Angeles, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 11, 2010
Financial Discrimination for Low-wage Workers in Los Angeles, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 8, 2009
Wal-Mart Will Pay Up to $85 Million in Class Action Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 12, 2009