A federal judge ruled that Wal-Mart can be added as a defendant to a class-action lawsuit brought by temporary warehouse workers in the Inland Empire.
The battle involves a warehouse operated by Schneider Logistics, which receives containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and ships them to Wal-Mart distribution centers and stores around the country.
Lawyers for the workers accuse Wal-Mart, Schneider and two temporary staffing agencies which supplied about 1,800 employees of violating labor laws such as failing to pay minimum wage or overtime and providing substandard working conditions.
Although the warehouse workers were not employed directly by Wal-Mart, the lawsuit alleges that the world's largest retailer is ultimately liable for how workers are treated by its contractors.
"It has become increasingly clear that the ultimate liability for workplace violations rests squarely on the shoulders of Wal-Mart, and not just on the contractors and subcontractors that act as a buffer," Michael Rubin, an attorney for the workers, said when the complaint was amended last November.
Dan Fogle, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said the retailer was taking the allegations "very seriously."
"In recent months, some workers at third-party logistics facilities that we have used have raised some concern and, even though the workers aren't employed by us, we're taking their allegations very seriously," he said in a prepared statement. "We recently met with some of the workers to hear and better understand their concerns."
Fogleman said Wal-Mart has also put together a system of independent auditors who will start inspecting third-party contractors to ensure proper work conditions this year.
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