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 industry.
SOURCE Building and Construction Trades Department