A new lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Wal-Mart employees alleging they were denied the wage, benefits and other protections they were entitled to under the law. Specifically, the suit alleges that janitors routinely worked seven days a week and were denied overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Under the FLSA, all employees who are not exempt must be paid at a rate of one and one half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any workweek. Thus, if the janitors worked in excess of 40 hours a week, they are entitled to overtime compensation.
Other claims include allegations that workers were locked inside while they worked and that Wal-Mart acquiesced to the illegal practices, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The lawsuit also seeks to have the janitors certified as a class.
Recently, many cases have come to light alleging violations of the FLSA among low wage earners – often immigrants who may not be aware of their rights or may fear retaliation for complaining. In the Wal-Mart case, plaintiffs allege that Wal-Mart conspired with outside cleaning companies to exploit immigrants who tend not to demand lawful compensation or humane working conditions.
Failure to pay the compensation due any exempt worker is a violation of the FLSA. Further, retaliation for complaining of violations is strictly prohibited.