Lawyers for warehouse workers in a class action against the contractors who run warehouses for Walmart are trying to add Walmart itself to the suit. The warehouse in question is owned by Walmart and exclusively moves Walmart goods, but the company claims that because it contracts with Schneider Logistics (which in turn contracts with staffing agencies) to run and staff the warehouse, Walmart can't be held responsible for the wage theft, safety violations, and other abuses found there.
David Moberg explains:
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.
The attorneys said the facts uncovered in their investigation showed that the "economic realities" of the operation of the warehouse establish Walmart's legal resposibility. As Kish and Rubin said, Walmart owns the warehouse, owns all the equipment and supplies, uses the same systems as in warehouses it directly operates, and not only had its own employees in the warehouse overseeing operations but also conducted regular audits that became the basis for changes in operations.
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