Because of the rising awareness of employment laws, many workers across the nation, including here in California, have started watching every step business’ make. In some cases, a company may be under such intense scrutiny that workers believe the company is violating the law when in fact they are in full compliance. As you can imagine, this can create immense tension between workers and the company they work for. Sometimes, this can even lead to litigation as well.
This certainly could be the case for Wal-Mart, which is facing scrutiny from workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union because it closed down five stores, laying off thousands of employees. The labor union claims that Wal-Mart closed down the stores in retaliation for labor protests, particularly the Pico Rivera location to the south of our Pasadena readers, which has been a site for protests since October 2012.
In a complaint filed this month, the labor union is asking the National Labor Relations Board to take legal action and force Wal-Mart to give workers their jobs back.
But are the accusations true? Has Wal-Mart really taken malicious action against its workers for labor activism, thus violating employment laws in the process? Or are workers making assumptions about a situation that aren’t true?
Wal-Mart believes this is the case. According to a spokesperson for the company, the stores were closed temporarily because of plumbing problems that were affecting both employees and customers alike. The locations that were closed had some of the highest incidence rates for plumbing issues across Wal-Mart’s 4,500 stores. It’s because of this rationale that Wal-Mart believes that the labor union does not have grounds for litigation.
Even if the labor union is wrong and the closing of the stores was not out of retaliation, this does not mean that Wal-Mart should ignore the threat of litigation. Any company in a similar situation would be wise to make sure that it has the proper evidence gathered and that it is presented effectively to the courts. With the help of an attorney who understands business law, this is more possible, which is a fact Wal-Mart has likely considered.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor, “Wal-Mart layoffs about retaliation, not repairs, union claims (+video),” Anne D’Innocenzio, April 20, 2015