Lawsuit Alleges that Walmart Played a Central Role in Decade-Long Scheme to Defraud Workers

For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Contact: Elizabeth Brennan at (213) 999-2164

LOS ANGELES –Judge Christina Snyder ruled Thursday in federal court that Walmart can be added as a defendant to a class action lawsuit alleging massive wage and hour violations at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Southern California. Read the order here.

Rejecting Walmart’s complaints of undue delay and prejudice, the judge noted said that she was “not persuaded” by Walmart’s arguments and ruled that the complaint, known as Carrillo v. Schneider Logistics, Inc., could be amended to include Walmart.

The ruling follows a separate ruling Dec. 28 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed several injunctions issued by Judge Snyder, including a preliminary injunction that blocked the termination of dozens of subcontracted warehouse workers. The three-judge appellate panel found that Schneider’s appeal was without merit and that the workers were “likely to succeed” in their claim that Schneider and its labor service contractors were their “joint employers.” Schneider is directly contracted by Walmart to operate the warehouse.

On Nov. 30 attorneys representing as many as 1,800 warehouse workers who move goods for Walmart in Southern California’s Inland Empire, filed a motion in federal court to add Walmart as a defendant. Plaintiff warehouse workers seek millions of dollars in reimbursement and penalties from Walmart and the contractors it hired to operate Walmart’s warehouse facilities in Riverside County, California.

After months of discovery, including key depositions of Walmart managers with detailed knowledge of the warehouse operations, attorneys made the decision to add Walmart as a defendant.

“We are confident, after questioning key Walmart witnesses and reviewing thousands of Walmart documents, that the jury will ultimately find that Walmart shares full responsibility for the many workplace violations suffered by the workers in the Mira Loma warehouses,” said plaintiffs’ attorney, Theresa M. Traber.

“We know that Walmart is in control and now we will know the extent of their involvement to defraud workers,” said David Acosta, a warehouse worker and plaintiff in the lawsuit.

In October 2011, workers who were jointly employed at the Walmart warehouses by Schneider Logistics, Inc. and two labor services subcontractors, Premier Warehousing Ventures and Impact Logistics, filed the Carrillo class action to recover back pay, penalties, and damages. Their lawsuit alleges that the workers who load and unload Walmart’s truck containers, many of whom have worked at these warehouses for years, were routinely forced to work off the clock, denied legally required overtime pay, and retaliated against when they tried to assert their legal rights, or even asked how their paychecks had been calculated.

The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement raided the Walmart-contracted warehouses in October 2011 and issued citations for civil fines totaling more than $1 million for inadequate recordkeeping alone.

About 85,000 workers labor in warehouses in the Inland Empire, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, loading and unloading goods that enter through our nation’s busiest ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles en route to major retailers like Walmart. The majority of workers are directly hired through labor subcontractors, paid low wages, receive no benefits, and have no job security.

Plaintiff workers are represented by Traber & Voorhees of Pasadena (626) 585-9611, Altshuler Berzon LLP of San Francisco (415) 421-7151, Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles (323) 939-0506, and the Law Offices of Sandra C. Munoz of Los Angeles (323) 720-9400. The case name is Everardo Carrillo v. Schneider Logistics, Inc., No. CV 11-8557 CAS (DTBx) (C.D. Cal.).