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Menards accused of wage theft

in Wisconsin news

In three separate class action lawsuits Menards workers are accusing the company of essentially stealing overtime wages by violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Menards is a privately held company based in Eau Claire with 305 locations, including one in Wausau. The company employs about 45,000 people.

The first lawsuit, filed in Indiana by Maurice Bradley, alleges the company used a “compensation scheme” of requiring workers to clock out for time using the bathroom or get a drink of water. Bradley was an hourly worker in Menards’ manufacturing division. The lawsuit alleges that by subtracting wages for these breaks, the company was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In Ohio, one worker, Carrie Santti, said she lost about $50 each week because of such policies.

In a separate suit, filed by Lyndsey Neal in Ohio, Menards is accused of failing to pay full overtime for workers who typically averaged between 45 and 50-hour work weeks. The lawsuit also alleges the company did not pay workers for time spent at mandatory safety meetings.

In its answers to the lawsuits, Menards denied breaking any federal labor laws. The company also tried to dismiss the cases and compel mandatory arbitration, taking the lawsuits out of open court and settling them privately and without the right of appeal.

Each plaintiff had signed a mandatory arbitration agreement prior to their employment that read “Arbitration shall be the sole and exclusive forum and remedy for all covered disputes of either Menard, Inc., or me.” But employees pointed out that Menards in 2016 had agreed not to force employees to waive their rights to sue. That agreement was reached as part of an unfair labor practice settlement.

The suits seek compensation for all Menard’s workers “similarly situated.”

In addition to these lawsuits Menard’s is facing an OSHA investigation and NLRB complaints on other violations of labor law.

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