A former Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC employee claims the home improvement retailer failed to pay proper wages and take recommended steps to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 22-page lawsuit begins by criticizing Lowe’s response to the pandemic after state and local governments began issuing stay-at-home orders in March 2020. According to the case, Lowe’s failed to maintain an effective illness prevention program, provide sterile protective equipment for workers, and implement proper policies, training and communications that would allow employees to protect themselves. From the complaint:
“Such failing included, but are [sic] not limited to, the failure to provide face coverings and gloves (or to provide face coverings which are unsealed and placed in public areas where they are subject to contamination), failure to update any injury and illness prevention program to account for COVID-19 and to properly train employees on such program; failure to enforce social distancing requirements; requiring employees to share employment spaces, computers, handsets, and other equipment and the subsequent failure to properly sanitize shared employment spaces/equipment; failure to provide sufficient breaks so that employees can wash their hands; and failing to install sufficient barriers/shields.”
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak began, Lowe’s violated federal and state labor laws with regard to employees’ wages and hours, the lawsuit claims. According to the case, Lowe’s failed to properly compensate non-exempt employees for all hours worked, including overtime hours when workers put in more than eight hours per day. In calculating employees’ overtime rates, Lowe’s excluded from employees’ regular rates of pay any non-discretionary bonuses, such as Emergency Assistance pay, and therefore paid workers less than they were owed under federal labor law, the suit adds.
The case further charges that after employees clocked out for their closing shifts, Lowe’s required that the workers perform “certain closing duties” for which they received no compensation at all.
Finally, the lawsuit alleges that Lowe’s failed to provide uninterrupted, 30-minute meal periods, during which employees are “completely relieved of any duty,” by the end of the fifth hour of work, as well as 10-minute rest periods every four hours.
The plaintiff, who has worked for Lowe’s since December 2019, looks to represent all non-exempt employees who worked for the defendant in California within the past four years and anytime until the lawsuit is resolved.
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