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Class action suits against Menards alleging wage law violations

Here at Cross Law Firm, S.C., we represent workers in Wisconsin, Illinois and across the country in individual and class action lawsuits against employers that ignore federal and state wage-and-hour laws. Anyone wondering whether his or her employer follows the law regarding required overtime; pay for training and during breaks; requests for work off the clock; classification as a salaried versus hourly employee; treatment as an independent contractor instead of an employee; minimum wage; unreasonable shifts; and other similar issues should speak with an attorney to understand potential legal remedies. 

Allegations in lawsuits against Menards  

Headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Menards is a home improvement warehouse retailer that in 2017 is the 28th largest private company in the nation, according to Forbes. The company has annual revenue of $9.5 billion, 45,000 employees and more than 280 stores in 14 Midwest states.

The Wausau Pilot & Review reports that Menards’ employees have filed three class action suits that allege violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA: 

  • An Indiana hourly manufacturing worker alleges that the company unlawfully refused to pay employees for time used to take brief breaks such as those to use the bathroom or grab water.
  • A former Ohio employee alleges similar facts and that she was underpaid around $50 weekly as a result.
  • Another Ohio employee alleges that Menards has not paid required overtime or for time at mandatory meetings. 

Defenses 

Reportedly, the company has denied any illegal activity. Another significant issue in the cases is Menards’ assertion that the cases should be dismissed and instead be resolved in mandatory arbitration. The plaintiffs were apparently required to sign mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. The agreements provided that arbitration would be the “sole and exclusive forum and remedy for all covered disputes …” 

How the arbitration issue will be resolved is unclear. The employees assert that Menards entered into an agreement last year with the National Labor Relations Board or NLRB not to enforce these arbitration clauses “as part of an unfair labor practice settlement.” 

CityPages reports that Menards has asked the courts involved to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis that concerns the “legality of forced arbitration clauses in hiring contracts.” How the courts will respond to this request is unknown. 

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