Trader Joe's and Grocery Outlet Contractor Faces $1.6 Million in Fines for Wage Theft
An Anaheim company that does inventory work for Trader Joe’s and Grocery Outlet is facing payments of back wages and fines totaling more than $1.6 million. According to a news report, the California Labor Commissioners Office made the announcement saying that Inventory Professionals have been ordered to reimburse 64 workers to whom the company failed to pay minimum wage, overtime and other types of compensation.
Under state law, companies that hire subcontractors also can be liable for workplace violations. This means, even though Trader Joe’s and Grocery Outlet contracted Inventory Professionals, they would be on the hook to pay the fines if their contractors did not. Officials said entities that choose a contract with the lowest bidder will be held liable if that vendor chooses to cut corners by committing wage theft. The state citations hold Trader Joe’s and Grocery Outlet each liable for $825,813 as client employers.
Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations
This ruling from the state essentially covers 64 workers who went aisle to aisle counting merchandise at both grocery stores statewide over a three-year period ending August 2018. All three companies have vowed to appeal the decision. Inventory Professionals’ owner told the Southern California News Group that it will appeal the decision and that the charges of wage theft “aren’t true.”
Along with wage violations, the companies were also cited for violating child labor laws. Two minors, one 14 and another 17, reportedly performed these tasks as late as 2 a.m. The statement also said workers performed inventory tasks for as much as 65 hours a week but were not paid overtime. Also, officials said the workers were paid less than the state’s required minimum wage. In addition, workers will be compensated for interest lost during the period for which they were not compensated. Some workers were also not given their final paychecks soon after serving their employment.
Protecting Workers’ Rights
Wage theft is a term that covers a variety of pay violations, which occur with alarming frequency in California. Wage theft occurs when employers shortchange workers by not paying them the minimum wage or required overtime. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, minimum wage violations in California alone occur about 372,000 times each week.
If you or a loved one has been denied your rightful wage, please remember that you have legal rights and options. Contact an experienced California employment lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.