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Grocers' suit over L.A. law will go to trial

January 06, 2007|Ashley Surdin | Times Staff Writer

The California Grocers Assn.'s challenge to a law that makes it harder to fire supermarket employees will go to trial, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ralph Dau ruled Friday.

The group sued the city of Los Angeles last year over a grocery "worker retention" ordinance, which limits a new company's ability to replace a previous owner's employees for at least three months. According to the lawsuit, the ordinance is preempted by federal labor laws, conflicts with state health and safety laws and improperly dictates rules of employment.

"We are pleased that Judge Dau has ruled to allow our case to proceed," said Peter Larkin, president of the California Grocers Assn., which represents 500 members with about 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada.

Councilwoman Jan Perry defended the ordinance in May, when the grocer group announced plans to file suit.

"It brings a measure of protection to people who are vulnerable," she said. Perry didn't return telephone calls seeking comment Friday.

The law, which took effect in February 2006, was created just before Supervalu Inc. bought more than 1,000 Albertsons Inc. stores and after a labor dispute at Southern California's largest supermarket chains.

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ashley.surdin@latimes.com

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