Judge blocks Inland Empire Walmart distribution center from laying off workers

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A federal judge has stopped a Walmart distribution center near Riverside from firing about a hundred employees who complained about workplace conditions.

The workers claim they were targeted for retaliation.

The warehouse, in Mira Loma, is operated by a company called Schneider Logistics, and the employees are hired by a separate firm, Rogers Premier Warehousing.

The workers were notified last month that they’d be out of a job by the end of February. A spokeswoman for the warehouse operator says Rogers Premier severed contracts with several distribution centers in the Inland Empire, Illinois and Georgia. She would not say why.

Workers claim the layoff announcement came after they complained about pay and working conditions. California labor inspectors slapped Rogers Premier with $600,000 in fines after it failed to provide itemized wage statements and allegedly shorted workers' paychecks.

“Someone has to do the work," said Guadalupe Palma of the advocacy group Warehouse Workers United, "it should be the workers who are there now. There’s no reason they should be terminated.”

Palma says Walmart needs to do more to monitor the labor practices of its contractors.

"Adopt a responsible contractor policy, make sure these employees aren’t retaliated against for voicing their rights and for trying to [recoup] the unpaid wages these companies have stolen from them.”

The judge in the case issued a restraining order barring Schneider and Rogers Premier from going through with the layoffs. Both firms are also named in a separate class action lawsuit.

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