Court rules grocery store employment policy invalid

A Los Angeles woman filed a class action lawsuit against her grocery store employer in 2011, claiming the business failed to pay her and other hourly deli clerks minimum and overtime wages. She alleged the employer also denied workers meal and rest breaks.

The grocery store argued that the lawsuit go forward under individual litigation because of the arbitration policy workers were required to sign prior to employment.

The policy allowed workers to pursue employment-related disputes only through individual arbitration and required that employees pay half of the cost of the legal proceedings. The District Court decided that employee agreement was both procedurally invalid and unconscionable, and that requiring workers to pay up-front for legal fees represented a significant barrier to arbitration.

On Oct. 28, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed the ruling of the lower court, remanding the case for further proceedings. The judge noted the policy allowed the employer to oversee the process of selecting a lawyer, making the agreement "unjustifiably one-sided," according to Law360.

Employers must maintain compliance with federal and state laws to avoid litigation. Attendance software can track employee time, allowing supervisors to accurately calculate compensation and overtime pay. In addition to a time clock, employee policies cannot violate worker rights under federal law.

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