Home improvement chain Menards is facing three separate class action lawsuits, all of which accuse the retailer of stealing its employees’ wages.
The first complaint was filed in federal court by a disgruntled low-level employee, Maurice Bradley.
The Indiana man alleges that Menards used a strange “compensation scheme” to ensure its employees were only being paid while actively working. Bradley said that meant workers were required to clock out for the most mundane and regular of tasks – pay could and would be deducted for using the restroom, grabbing a bottle of water, or stepping outside for a cigarette.
CityPages.com reports that Bradley wasn’t alone – a retail worker from Ohio, Carrie Santti, says she lost $50 per week as a result of the same, company-wide policies.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Menards’ restrictive compensation scheme didn’t give any leeway to its employees.
Another Ohio woman and former Menards distribution center worker, Lyndsey Neal, claims that the chain routinely refused to pay overtime for employees who put in 40-50 hour weeks.
On top of that, Neal says she was frequently compelled to attend mandatory warehouse safety meetings which, for some reason, were held off the clock.
In its response to the suits, Menards has predictably denied that its violated any labor laws. The corporation is also trying to push the litigation out of the courtroom and into mandatory arbitration.
The company, like many others in the United States, makes employees sign a waiver upon hire which reads “Arbitration shall be the sole and exclusive forum and remedy for all covered disputes of either Menard, Inc., or me.”
However, the disgruntled ex-employees say that Menards has no right to wave its documents around as an easy excuse – in 2016, the retailer agreed before the National Labor Relations Board to stop forcing its workers to give up their ability to sue.
CityPages notes that Menards is asking that the three class action suits be placed on hold as the Supreme Court hears a case on the legality of forced arbitration clauses in hiring contracts.
The case – Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis – asks whether mandatory arbitration clauses violate the National Labor Relations Act.
Oral arguments on Epic Systems v. Lewis were heard on October 2nd, with the National Academy of Arbitrators suggesting that class action suits often provide a better outcome for employees than arbitration.
Until the Supreme Court issues a ruling, Menards may consider revising its ‘compensation’ schemes, which seem less designed to ensure worker productivity and more to take advantage of its hourly employees.