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Riverside CA Warehouse Workers Fear Job Loss after Initiating State Investigation and Filing Wage and Hour Lawsuit

January 24, 2012

Last year, Vincent Howard discussed a Riverside class action wage and hour lawsuit in our Costa Mesa employment lawyers blog, that was filed by a group of workers at a Riverside, California warehouse who claim that there are forced to work under brutal conditions, required to perform in dangerous working environments, and regularly experience wage theft.

The Riverside wage and hour lawsuit was filed after California State Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su launched investigations into the staffing firm operations at the warehouse facility, that handles goods for nationwide Wal-Mart retail stores. The Riverside warehouse is one of a wide network of Inland Empire-area warehouses in California, that receive goods headed for retail stores across the country, and the state investigation uncovered staggering labor law violations that resulted in $1 million in fines by Commissioner Su.

After the investigation, the three staffing agencies, as well as Schneider, the company responsible for running the Wal-Mart distribution center, were sued in the class action lawsuit by six workers--who claim they are purposefully underpaid due to outsourcing and subcontractor layering, they are pressured to perform in dangerous working conditions, and are consistently denied minimum wage and overtime compensation. The workers claim in the suit that when they confronted their employers about the treatment, they reportedly received threats of retaliation, actual retaliation and job termination.

Last week, according to the Huffington Post, the workers staffed by the Rogers-Premier Unloading Services company have been notified both in writing and orally that their jobs will come to a close by February 24th, when the contract between Schneider and Rogers-Premier ends--as the staffing company has decided to no longer provide workers in the Riverside County warehouse, as well as the Illinois and Georgia locations as well.

As Vincent Howard discussed in a previous Carson labor and employment attorney blog, warehouses like the Schneider location frequently use temporary, low-wage workers, often Latino, who do not receive employment benefits--which exposes vulnerable employees to workplace labor and employment abuses.

Some of the workers claim that they used to be Schneider's direct employees, earning an hourly wage and employment benefits, until employers enacted an employment scheme that lowers the workers' wages, by outsourcing and subcontractor layering--changing hourly employees to a piece rate compensation plan where employees are paid per the number of containers that they load or unload. This plan, according to employees, was supposed to earn them more money, but in fact their wages reportedly dropped--as workers only get paid if the container is either full or empty--regardless of extreme effort, physically demand, and dangerous high temperatures. The workers also call this plan confusing--as they often don't know how much they are being paid, are not allowed to see their paychecks.

The Huffington Post reports that according to officials at Warehouse Workers United, an advocacy group that is leading the efforts toward unionization in the Inland Empire, the Rogers-Premier workers will most likely lose their jobs because they initiated a state investigation and filed a lawsuit against their employer--either in retaliation or because the company can't make enough money.

The workers held a demonstration last week, and are asking Schneider to ensure that their employment will be continued at the warehouse, through a new staffing firm. One of the workers claimed that although he is currently looking for other warehouse work, he does not regret standing up for his California labor and employment rights.

At Howard Law, PC our Orange County labor and employment attorneys know how to find the best resolution to your wage and hour workplace issue. Contact managing attorney Vincent Howard today, to discuss your wage and hour rights during a free consultation.

Warehouse Workers Who Prompted State Investigation Could Lose Jobs, The Huffington Post, January 18, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR): The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, (DSLE)

Related Blog Posts:

Warehouse Workers File Another Wage Theft Lawsuit Against Wal-Mart Staffing Agencies, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 8, 2011

CA Labor Commissioner Fines Warehouse Staffing Firms for Alleged Labor Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 21, 2011

Riverside Warehouse Investigated by CA Labor Officials, Sued by Workers for Wage Theft, Abusive Conditions, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 16, 2011

DOL Forces Wok King Restaurant to Pay $531K in Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, October 10, 2011

DOL Continues to Track Down Federal Wage and Hour Law Violations in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 8, 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