A customer’s lawsuit against Walmart for wages for using the company’s self-checkout facilities was dismissed by a federal judge in California.
US District Judge Jon S. Tigar ruled that the labor law does not protect non-employees and that it would be absurd to extend the law to Walmart customers.
The customer, Deborah Russell, could only be owed wages if she was considered an employee, but there was no law classifying customers as workers.
Russell filed the lawsuit in May, alleging that the use of self-checkout machines legally turned customers into employees and that Walmart’s failure to pay customers violated state labor laws and undermined statewide job markets.
According to Russell, California wage laws define what it means to hire a worker, and the term “employ” can also mean “to suffer or allow” another to work.
Russell claimed that Walmart’s cashiers were explicitly viewed as workers and their job duties included handling and scanning products.
Russell also claimed that Walmart’s implementation of self-checkout kiosks was not for the benefit of customers, but rather a ploy to reduce labor costs and provide economic benefits for the company.
She claimed this constituted an act of unfair competition under the California Business and Professions Code.
Walmart argued that Russell was trying to fundamentally change California law about what it means to be an employee and that there was no legal basis for treating customers as employees.
The judge agreed with Walmart, saying that if the law were interpreted the way Russell wanted it would open the door to pay grievances from other non-employees who are currently outside the parameters.
The judge added that classifying clients as employees would stretch credulity beyond its limits.
He gave examples such as a child choosing and paying for a pumpkin in a Halloween pumpkin patch to pick yourself, a customer busing their own table at a restaurant, a customer retrieving online purchases from a locker or a farmer’s market customer , which puts products in its own reusable bag, and so on.
Walmart expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision, and a company spokesman said the company is pleased with the outcome.
Russell was given the opportunity to amend her complaint, but the judge expressed skepticism about her ability to bring a claim based on the current facts.
Walmart was represented by King & Spalding LLP while Russell was represented by the law firms of David J. Gallo.
No comment was immediately received from the attorneys involved or Russell.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7381845/walmart-self-checkout-legal-battle-employees/ I sued Walmart over self-checkout — but a key flaw in my argument lost my litigation with the beloved retailer