Arizona Walmart Employees Seek Unpaid Wages for COVID-19 Screening Time

On March 22, 2021, two former Walmart employees filed a proposed class action against the retail giant in United States District Court in the District of Arizona, claiming that Walmart failed to pay hourly, non-exempt Arizona store workers for mandatory pre-shift COVID-19 screening time, in violation of Arizona state law.  A copy of the proposed class action Complaint, in the matter of Arrison v. Walmart, Inc., can be accessed here.

Walmart’s COVID-19 screening process — which has been in effect since April 2020, requires employees to stand in line to be asked a series of questions, have their temperatures taken, and be issued masks and gloves — purportedly takes 10-15 minutes on average, and sometimes significantly longer, if a large number of people are waiting in line.

According to the lawsuit, there are two alleged “smoking guns” pointing to willful wage and hour violations by Walmart.  First, regardless of how long workers were on-site awaiting their COVID-19 screenings, they were not allowed to clock in sooner than eight (8) minutes before their scheduled shifts.  Second, since November 2020, Walmart began adding an additional five (5) minutes to each employee’s daily recorded work time, which partially (but far from fully) compensated them for time spent awaiting and undergoing COVID-19 screenings.

We will continue to monitor this case and provide updates.  Wage and hour issues concerning COVID-19 screenings are “hot button” issues.  Employers would be well advised to analyze their current policies and procedures and make appropriate changes if necessary.