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California warehouse workers file wage violation suit

In California, minimum wage laws require that workers be paid at least $8 an hour. Warehouse workers have recently filed an employment law suit in United States District Court in Los Angeles claiming that worker rights were violated when they were paid significantly less than minimum wage.

Just east of Los Angeles lies a vast system of warehouses supplying goods for major U.S. companies. Within these facilities products are received from overseas manufacturers and are distributed throughout the United States.

Employees are claiming that while working in often dangerously hot conditions, they were left in the dark about how their pay was determined and how much they were making. They also argue that they were often forced to sign blank time sheets. Their supervisors would then record much less time than was actually worked, thereby significantly reducing the amount of money they were paid -- sometimes by more than half of what was owed.

These workers also claim that the warehouses would only pay them for unloading or reloading goods but not for other tasks completed. Workers were also kept on temporary employment status even after years of service, and were also forced to rent uniforms.

Employees recall being threatened with the loss of their jobs if they reported these violations, complained about them or complained about the working conditions.

The employers, on the other hand, claim that no violations were present and that workers were paid the appropriate minimum wage. They maintain that they are committed to providing a safe work environment for all of their employees. The warehouses continue to investigate any suspected violations. Furthermore, employers claim any mistakes in pay were not "willful or intentional."

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health continues to investigate these alleged violations and have recommended several fines toward warehouses where problems have been found. Workers have the option of seeking legal help as individuals in addition to the state investigation.

Source: Today News, "Warehouse workers say abuses are systemic," Lilly Fowler, Mar. 5, 2012

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