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Workers holding sign saying "Warehouses of Walmart stealing wages for low prices. Stolen wages at Schneider is Walmart's dirty little secret."
Walmart is having a bad week on the labor law front. In addition to the National Labor Relations Board moving ahead with charges that Walmart illegally threatened and retaliated against striking workers, a federal judge in California refused to dismiss a class-action lawsuit brought by warehouse workers against Walmart and Schneider Logistics, meaning they will have to go to trial.

Walmart contracts with Schneider Logistics to run warehouses, and has always said that the workers in the warehouses are Schneider employees with no real connection to Walmart. In the current case, Schneider also claims not to be legally liable for minimum wage and overtime violations, because the workers are hired and employed through a staffing agency. But federal district Judge Christina Snyder is saying "not so fast": She's reaffirmed an earlier decision that both Walmart and Schneider should go to trial to determine if they are in fact joint employers of these workers.

Tuesday’s ruling marks the first time a court has ruled there has been enough evidence of Walmart’s “joint employer” status to overcome summary judgment or a motion to dismiss, which requires Walmart to defend itself at trial, according to attorneys for the workers.

“The workers’ day-to-day reality is vindicated by this ruling,” said Theresa Traber of Traber & Voorhees, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, through a statement. “They are subjected to the directions and pressures of Schneider managers as they enforce Walmart’s performance standards on a daily basis.”

That there were serious minimum wage and overtime violations in the Schneider-Walmart warehouse complex isn't in much doubt: a separate case involving workers employed directly by Schneider was already settled for $4.7 million. That's a big reason it's so important for Walmart to deny being the workers' employer at all. Now they'll have to prove that in court—something that won't be easy, and will probably bring to light a lot of information about how its warehouses work that Walmart would probably prefer remain hidden.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Won't the plaintiffs have to prove in court (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ceebee7, Sparhawk, AlexDrew, nextstep

    that the employees are employed by Walmar,t rather than the other way around?

    This will be very interesting litigation to watch but it seems to me that the case against Walmart will be challenging. Walmart is separated by two legal entities from the actual employees. The staffing agency is the employer and signs the paychecks. Schneider Logistics contracts with the staffing agency, but that shield has been pierced as noted in the diary. Taking the liability to Walmart will be a difficult legal challenge. As noted in the diary these cases have historically been dismissed at the summary judgement stage because the law provides a strong liability shield for this type of contractual relationship.  

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:42:59 AM PST

    •  One would hope that a close look (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      at the legal term "agency" might be undertaken and the real intent of Walmart be deemed to remove itself from responsibililty for employees who, at the end of the day, are doing Walmart's bidding...  Like most litigation, lots will depend on which judge gets the case.  Or, if it fails due to legal precedent, a responsive Congress (!?!) could write new law to change the meaning of agency.  One way or another, nothing will be decided very soon.

      "There's always room for cello." Yo Yo Ma

      by ceebee7 on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:56:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        the real intent of Walmart be deemed to remove itself from responsibililty for employees who, at the end of the day, are doing Walmart's bidding...
        Well, all contracting is like this. That's the point of it: you just write a check to a second organization so you don't have the need to do the work yourself, and yes, part of why you contract out is to pay the other entity to keep legal and compliance issues on their side of the line, not yours.

        I think the upshot here is that compliance violations against the warehouse company will be enforced, but not against Walmart itself. In a temp agency situation there is a good argument that the customer of the temp agency might be responsible for labor violations, but doubtful that their customer will.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 02:48:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great article in The Nation about conditions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon, zapus, BusyinCA, lotlizard

         in these "fulfillment centers."  ☛ The Nation, 12-16-'13

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 04:42:43 PM PST

  •  Walmart: The GREEDIEST Fuckers on the planet (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon, Gooserock, zapus, BusyinCA


    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 04:46:56 PM PST

  •  Investigate whether Walmart's cost-cutting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    caused the subcontractor save money by not using heaters. Walmart is brutal on suppliers and subcontractors. They expect cost cutting with every contract renewal.

  •  This suit is perfect -- it will lead to decisions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Old Sailor, BusyinCA

    that will either let us know if corporations can use subcontractors as slaves, or not.  In any case, there will be case law, and we as employees can judge the corporations by their actions.

    Will they use subcontractors and be known as enemies of the people, or will they treat employees at least as legal entities?

  •  hip hip (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  I am not a lawyer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Old Sailor

    But I am hoping this case can set a precedent protecting us temp employees that do the same job as regulars, for less moneez and less bennez than the regulars we have to deal with on a daily basis.

    Today, the guy next to me said he put 23K in his 401k last year. Holy f^@k. I only made 40k gross last year. Must be nice to be part of the machine.

    And in closing, fuck Wal-Mart.

  •  Can we also look at Amazon's warehouses too, now? (0+ / 0-)

    Amazon and its warehouses are the Walmart of the Web.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 10:40:57 PM PST

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