Inventory counting services co. faces class action suit over compensation issues

By Jon Campisi | May 7, 2013

A Pennsylvania man has filed a class action lawsuit against a California-based company

that provides inventory counting services to retail companies nationwide over allegations that the defendant regularly denies overtime wages to its employees.

Joshua Reesey, a resident of Johnstown, Pa., claims in his civil action, which was filed April 29 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, that defendants WIS Holdings Corp. and Washington Inventory Service, which does business as WIS International, have a policy and practice to deny earned wages and overtime pay to its inventory associates employed across the country.

The practice, Reesey claims, violates Pennsylvania law.

He is suing on behalf of himself and others similarly situated.

The complaint says that Reesey is a former inventory associate who worked for WIS in Pennsylvania and elsewhere between the years of 2009 and 2011.

The plaintiff also worked as a van driver for the defendants during a portion of his employment.

WIS, the complaint states, contracts with retail stores to count the stores’ inventory. It currently employs about 13,000 inventory associates in the United States.

WIS pays the associates hourly and classifies them as “non-exempt” workers who are entitled to overtime compensation.

The associates rarely work at the same store two days in a row and they often have to travel to stores that are far from their homes, the suit states.

If a job is within an hour drive from the defendants’ office, the associates are expected to transport themselves to their jobs, the complaint says, but if a job is more than an hour away, a supervisor must accompany the associate in a work-provided vehicle to the jobsite.

On the days when associates travel to job sites in company-provided vehicles, they drive from their homes to a meeting site, where they leave their vehicles, the complaint shows.

The associates are not compensated for the first hour during which they are traveling in a work vehicle, the suit says, and only after they have been in the company vehicle for an hour are they compensated for their travel time.

While the associates are required to arrive at a jobsite at least 15 minutes prior to the start of their inventory count, they often arrive much earlier, sometimes as much as an hour or more in advance.

The associates, the complaint states, are also expected to spend a significant amount of time unloading and preparing equipment before a count begins, and they are sometimes required to participate in a “crew briefing” beforehand.

The lawsuit says that the defendants begin paying the associates at the start of the crew briefing, but that the associates aren’t compensated for the time when they unload and prep equipment.

The company’s policy is to pay crew briefing time at minimum wage and pay “counting time” at a higher hourly rate.

The suit goes on to claim that the associates are made to wait at a jobsite until a supervisor performs “wrap-up” work, and that the defendants don’t compensate the associates for the time they then spend repacking and reloading equipment.

The plaintiff in the case seeks class certification, asserting there are common questions of law and fact to the prospective class, including whether the defendants fail to pay employees the straight-time and overtime wages due to them, whether WIS fails to pay all compensation owed to associates at the time of termination, whether the company fails to properly calculate and pay overtime in accordance with Pennsylvania law, and whether WIS’s conduct violates the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law and the state’s Minimum Wage Act.

“Plaintiff Joshua Reesey will fairly represent the members of the classes because the class members have been employed in the same or similar positions as Plaintiff and were subject to the same or similar unlawful practices as Plaintiff,” the suit states. “In this respect, Plaintiff’s claims are typical of the claims of the classes he seeks to represent.”

In addition to seeking class certification, the plaintiff seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and liquidated damages, pre-and-post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and other court relief.

The lawsuit was jointly filed by lawyers Larry A. Weisberg and Derrek W. Cummings, of the Harrisburg firm McCarthy Weisberg Cummings; attorneys George A. Hanson and Matthew L. Dameron, of the Missouri firm Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP; and attorneys Bradford B. Lear and Todd C. Werts, of the Missouri firm Lear Werts LLP.


The case ID number is 130404232.

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