Walmart may soon find it harder to avoid responsibility, as it has in the past, for the mistreatment of workers in its long supply chain.
Lawyers who sued temporary labor firms in a giant Walmart warehouse last year for violating federal and state laws with their abusive labor practices today took what they described as the “historic” step of adding Walmart as a defendant in the case.
They claimed that their investigation and depositions undertaken for the original suit filed in October 2011 show that Walmart really “calls the shots” at the warehouse and should be held liable along with its subcontractors for “stealing millions of dollars from the low-wage warehouse workers who move Walmart merchandise,” as Michael Rubin, an attorney for the workers, wrote to the Center for Public Integrity.
The updated charges included six theories supporting the claim that Walmart is legally a joint employer and shares liabilities with the contractors, arguing that the relationship is not that between an arm’s length provider of services or goods, like a painting contractor or bookkeeping firm that a small business might hire. The amendment to the lawsuit calls Schneider “closely-controlled” by Walmart—until last year most if not all Schneider managers had walmart.com e-mail addresses—and notes that a Walmart-owned security firm is responsible for protecting the warehouse.
Warehouse Workers United WWU http://www.warehouseworkersunited.org/