Class-Action Lawsuits Filed in New York and California Against Construction Temp Firm Labor Ready, Inc.; Workers Allege Money Illegally Deducted From Pay; Building and Construction Trades Unions Rally in Support

Oct 03, 2000, 01:00 ET from Building and Construction Trades Department

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Class-action lawsuits were filed today
 in state courts in New York, NY and San Jose, CA, charging Labor Ready, Inc.
 (NYSE:   LRW), one of the nation's largest temporary employment agencies, with
 illegally siphoning money from workers' pay.  The lawsuits allege that Labor
 Ready's practice of charging employees an average of $1.50 to withdraw their
 daily pay from the company's cash dispensing machines -- which nationwide in
 1999 generated $7.7 million in revenue for the company -- violates state law
 in New York and California.  The lawsuits seek back pay awards for all current
 and former employees who used the cash machines.
     "People should be paid fair wages for a fair day's work," said Eugene
 Tonissen, one of the plaintiffs of the New York suit.  "Who can raise a family
 on $53 a day? What they're doing is wrong."
     The cash dispensing machines were installed by Labor Ready to pay workers
 in cash at the end of each workday.  The machine charges workers a fee of
 $1.00 and rounds down any change in their wages to the lowest dollar amount,
 costing workers up to an additional 99 cents per day.  In New York and
 California, discounting a person's pay is illegal.  If Labor Ready is found to
 have violated the law, the company will have to pay workers their lost wages.
     Similar laws in other states have opened the possibility of more lawsuits.
 A suit filed against Labor Ready's wage deduction policies in Atlanta, GA in
 July 2000 was amended last month to include additional charges.  The
 amendments allege that Labor Ready charged workers rental fees for equipment
 used to perform their work assignments in violation of Georgia law.  The suit
 also claims that Labor Ready illegally charges transportation fees to workers
 for shuttling them from the Labor Ready office to their work sites.  In
 addition, the Georgia suit says that Labor Ready fails to obtain consent from
 its employees before they are sent to work sites that potentially expose them
 to hazardous chemicals.
     Labor Ready, which has attracted employees with its "Work Today, Paid
 Today" slogan, is one of the largest and fastest growing temporary employment
 agencies in the country.  It operates 839 offices in 49 states, Puerto Rico,
 Canada, and the United Kingdom.  Labor Ready is a leader in the national trend
 away from full-time, permanent jobs towards part-time, temporary, and contract
 staffing strategies.  Today nearly three in ten working Americans are employed
 in contingent or non-standard employment.
     The "Temp Workers Deserve a Permanent Voice @ Work" campaign was launched
 in April by building and construction trades unions in an effort to shed light
 on the employment practices of temporary work agencies in the construction

SOURCE Building and Construction Trades Department