A proposed class action alleges Sodexo, Inc. and SDH Education West, LLC, have unlawfully passed along to their employees the costs associated with workers’ compensation by deducting the price of mandatory slip-resistant shoes from their wages without reimbursement.
The lawsuit, which was recently removed from superior to federal court in California, centers on the defendants’ involvement with the Shoes for Crews (SFC) program. By participating in the program, the defendants, the suit says, are provided with a limited warranty through which Shoes For Crews, LLC agrees to pay for “any direct medical expenses paid by [a participating company] for injuries sustained by employees…resulting from slip and fall accidents” that occur while wearing shoes purchased through the program.
According to the plaintiff, the defendants “pressure, force, and otherwise require” employees to buy slip-resistant shoes from Shoes for Crews at their own expense. All told, the plaintiff charges the defendants, by forcing employees to bear the costs of participation in the Shoes for Crews program, are in turn imposing the costs of workers’ compensation, including insurance premiums, onto those same employees.
“When the employees purchased SFC shoes, whether directly or having these sums deducted from wages, they indirectly contributed to the cost of compensation because their purchases resulted in Defendants receiving warranties from SFC,” the complaint states. “These warranties provided by SFC were designed to offset workers’ compensation medical expenses. Undeniably, the warranties did in fact, to the extent specified, cover the cost of workers’ compensation.”
At the end of the day, the case claims, the defendants’ employees essentially fund an employer-sponsored safety program, which exists in the first place to reduce workers’ comp premiums.