Just as Wal-Mart started to crank up its latest “real facts” campaign to “tell our story” to the public, and defend the honor of its employees, those darn “associates” are back in court again to press claims against the over-sized retailer. Reuters reports this week that three hourly workers (as opposed to salaried workers) in California are suing Wal-Mart for “time theft” — shaving hours off their work record. This latest lawsuit was filed last week in Alameda County Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks class action status, as well as damages, penalties, and restitution for Wal-Mart hourly employees in California going back to Jan. 1, 1997. If this case were to be granted class action status, it could affect more than 200,000 present and former Wal-Mart workers. The plaintiffs claim that Wal-Mart “deleted thousands of hours of time worked from employees’ payroll records” by erasing overtime hours and by penalizing employees who forgot to punch in after their meal breaks by denying them pay for the remainder of those days.” The 3 plaintiffs, Jerrilyn Newland, Charlotte Johnson, and James Davis, said they became aware “time shaving,” after a media story last spring said Wal-Mart had engaged in the practice. A court in Washington state last year approved a large class action lawsuit accusing Wal-Mart of violating the state’s wage and hour laws. Two years ago, an Oregon jury determined that Wal-Mart forced employees to work unpaid hours between 1994 and 1999. Last week, we reported on a Massachusetts “time theft” lawsuit as well. All tolled, lawsuits on similar matters brought by employees are pending in 35 states.
Wal-Mart’s CEO told the media the company was initiating a new public relations campaign in part on behalf of its workers. Unfortunately, stories like this one, in which Wal Mart’s ‘associates’ are suing their employer, speaks louder than company press releases. Such lawsuits are just one reason that Wal-Mart doesn’t even show up in Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work (see related story.) For earlier stories on this topic, search the Newsflash database by “employees” or “lawsuits.”