Walmart Retaliation—California Labor Law Violation

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Los Angeles, CA Some employment law experts believe that retaliation lawsuits are declining, having peaked during the height of the recession. However, if Walmart workers are any indication, retaliation, which violates the California labor law, is common practice by California employers.

October 4, 2012 was an historic day for Walmart. More than 70 Los Angeles Walmart workers from nine stores walked off the job, even though they are not unionized. It was the first strike by Walmart retail employees in the retailer’s 50-year history. More workers and supporters rallied with the protesters, carrying signs saying "On Strike for the Freedom to Speak Out" and "Walmart Strike Against Retaliation”. Workers claim Walmart has threatened, suspended and even terminated employees for speaking out about working conditions and low pay.

Walmart employees claim the company constantly violates the California labor employment law and federal employment laws. In recent weeks alone, Walmart has received more than 20 charges of unfair labor practices nationwide from the National Labor Relation Board.

Workers claim that they have either been fired or had their hours cut back after being involved with OUR Walmart, according to Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart, the campaign behind OUR Walmart. (OUR Walmart is a labor group backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers that defends Walmart workers' rights.) Schlademan further said workers have been told not to talk to OUR Walmart organizers and that doing so could shut down stores, which would mean they would be out of work.

Walmart has had more than its share of employment issues recently. Just one month ago, Walmart “lumpers”-- warehouse workers who load trucks to deliver to Walmart--walked off the job protesting against working conditions. (Walmart responded by saying that service providers and subcontractors are expected to comply with the law??"warehouse workers are employed by subcontractors, and not hired directly by Walmart.)

Walmart continued to hit the news when it responded to a “series of unprecedented labor strikes”, according to the Huffington Post (10/13/12). The largest retailer in the world is viewing the protests as “serious attacks” and at the same time, urging its managers not to “discipline” employees who engage in walkouts, sit-ins or sick-outs. It would appear that the company has taken an “about face” regarding retaliation than it had in the past.

Black Friday (Nov 23) is the deadline given to Walmart by striking employees, who demand the company end its retaliatory practices against workers attempting to organize. Along with demanding that Walmart stop retaliating against workers who want to unionize, employees at 28 stores nationwide are also asking for better pay and benefits.

So far Walmart in the US is not unionized, although the majority of stores worldwide are, according to Bloomberg (Jun 2011).

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