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Janitors Get Class-Action Status on Market Suit

April 10, 2001|From Bloomberg News

California grocery store janitors won class-action certification for their lawsuit against the three largest U.S. supermarkets for allegedly breaking labor laws by hiring workers through a janitorial-services contractor.

Albertson's Inc., Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Kroger Co.'s Ralphs markets face a suit from as many as 1,500 California janitors, represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Service Employees International Union. Janitorial-services provider Encompass Services Corp. is also a defendant.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Moreno in Los Angeles said for now he will bar the class-action plaintiffs from winning monetary damages. Moreno said he may revisit the issue after both sides conduct discovery to gather evidence.

Eight janitorial workers filed suit in November, saying the supermarkets "pretended" to hire janitors indirectly using a contractor, making them non-employees, ineligible for overtime and other wages. The janitors allegedly often work seven days a week and are paid in cash or by personal check, without deductions for payroll taxes, they say.

The janitors are seeking monetary damages and an injunction banning the stores from violating California wage and labor laws.

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