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Warehouse owes over $1 million in unpaid wages

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has cited a Walmart contractor for wage and hour violations. Quetico, LLC, a warehouse operation that packs clothes and shoes for Walmart and other retailers, owes 865 workers more than $1.1 million in unpaid wages and overtime, the state says. The citations carry penalties of around $200,000.

The state stepped in after workers sought assistance from the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, an advocacy group associated with Warehouse Workers United. The workers reported their employer routinely shorted them pay for hours worked. The workers also reported missed lunch periods, faulty warehouse time clocks and retaliation. They said the employer would restore their pay if they complained but then would issue a warning. After three warnings, an employee would be fired.

Working conditions at the three-building warehouse complex in Chino, California, have been called into question numerous times in the last year. The state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited the employer for unsafe working conditions and inadequate restroom access in May. In June, the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement charged the business with unlawful retaliation against three workers who complained about missing pay. More charges of unlawful retaliation are pending with the National Labor Relations Boards.

California and federal law require that workers be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and to be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of eight in a day or 40 in a week. The law also prohibits retaliation against an employee who complains about unlawful pay practices. Any employee who believes he or she has not received the proper pay may benefit by talking to a knowledgeable wage and hour dispute attorney about the complaint process.

Source: San Diego Free Press, "State Hits Walmart Contractor with Wage Theft Ruling," Jan. 30, 2013

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