A Southern California Walmart contractor is currently facing a $21 million settlement for denying more than 1,800 employees their full pay over the course of more than a decade. Although the workers were employed by a subcontractor, the presiding judge ruled that Walmart should be added as a defendant. This is an important decision because it sends the message that Walmart (and other mega-companies like it) are responsible for how their subcontractors treat employees.
In this case, the subcontractor paid workers piece rate while forcing them to work in dangerously hot warehouse conditions, and when they complained, they say were threatened with termination.
While it was important to have Walmart named as a defendant, the large settlement will be paid only by the subcontractor. A spokesperson for Walmart responded to the settlement announcement by saying the company is “obviously pleased” that the subcontractor will have to pay.
Labor groups have been fighting Walmart for years over the company’s pay practices. These groups have recently changed strategy and started focusing on the distributors whose contracted workers load and unload goods on their way to Walmart stores. Many of these workers are easily abused because they are temporary workers and are given low pay and no benefits while being put under tremendous pressure to keep supply lines humming.
The $21 million settlement is awaiting approval by the court. For more information on this case, click here.