Home Depot warehouse workers sue company
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org October 25, 2013 9:04AM
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:29AM
Employees of the now-closed Home Depot warehouse in Romeoville filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, claiming they were “forced to work off the clock, were paid less than minimum wage and were denied overtime after 40 hours worked as required by law.”
Both Home Depot and Prologistix, a temp firm that staffed the warehouse, were named in the class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Kyle Creal, one of the plaintiffs, said worker complaints were not addressed by their bosses, according to a news release.
“The law is clear: workers must be paid overtime after 40 hours of work and must be paid at least minimum wage,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Alvar Ayala, of Workers Law Office in Chicago, said in the release.
While four workers are named in the suit, the action will go back three years to assist any other worker who was in a similar situation as the plaintiffs, Leah Fried, a spokeswoman for Joliet-based Warehouse Workers For Justice, said Thursday.
The employees were assisted by WWJ, which is a worker rights group that came to Will County in 2009 to help employees in the county’s growing distribution sector get fair wages and better working conditions.
More than 30 lawsuits have been filed to get warehouse employees back wages and other concessions, and many have been settled out of court, Fried said.
“It’s good to get justice, but we want to prevent these kinds of abuses,” she said.
In January 2012, when a 658,000-square-foot Home Depot warehouse opened in Joliet, local officials were pleased to learn the company employed its own workers — in contrast to other large companies, including Wal-Mart, that use a third-party logistics system.
In such a system, a large company hires a warehouse management firm that in turn hires a temp agency to staff the warehouse. Workers have tenuous positions, some don’t get benefits and many are mistreated or laid off in a cyclical pattern, WWJ has said.
Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, said the retailer employs some warehouse workers directly and in other cases uses temp agencies. Sometimes it depends on whether a warehouse is a stock distribution center or a rapid deployment center, he said.
The Home Depot warehouses in Romeoville and Bolingbrook were stock distribution centers that closed when the work was consolidated at a 1.6 million-square-foot warehouse in Joliet that opened in September, the company’s second warehouse in the city, Holmes said.
The two warehouses combined are Home Depot’s largest supply chain site in the United States, according to the company.
The first Home Depot warehouse in Joliet was a rapid deployment center, Holmes said. He declined to divulge where it does or doesn’t uses temp agencies “for competitive reasons.”
As for the lawsuit, Holmes said the company is committed to fair employment practices for all workers and has the “same commitment and legal compliance of any vendor that provides staff for us.”
A Prologistix spokesperson could not be reached Thursday for comment.