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Walgreens Wages and Waste Settlements

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Walgreens recently settled two lawsuits: unpaid wages and improper waste disposal. Is there a link?

Glendale, CAWalgreens employees recently settled a California labor lawsuit, filed by a former worker who claimed the huge nationwide retail pharmacy failed to pay him and other employees for all hours worked. Around the same time, Walgreens settled another lawsuit alleging it improperly disposed of hazardous waste and mishandled customers’ records.

“Rounded Down” or “Shaved Hours” Allegations


Lucas Mejia worked from about 2010 until 2017 as an hourly stocker at a Walgreens distribution center in California. In November 2018 Mejia filed a class action lawsuit alleging Walgreens used numerous employment practices that failed to pay non-exempt employees all the compensable time they had worked, according to the California labor code. For instance, Walgreens allegedly “rounded down employees' hours on their timecards, required employees to pass through security checks before and after their shift without compensating them for time worked, and failed to pay premium wages to employees who were denied legally required meal breaks,” according to court documents. (No. 2:19-cv-00218 WBS AC E.D. Cal. Nov. 24, 2020).

Walgreens employees chose to settle for $4.5 million in damages rather than proceed to trial.

Walgreens Hazardous Waste Lawsuit


The “violations of hazardous waste and related laws” lawsuit against Walgreen Co., filed by district attorney of Alamada County Nancy O’Malley and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feurer, reached a $3.5 million settlement in December 2020.

Waste materials dumped into open trash bins included over-the-counter and prescription medication, electronic devices, batteries, aerosol products, cleaning supplies and other toxic items “generated through the company’s normal business activities,” according to Feurer’s website.  

This civil action, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court, is the result of an almost seven year investigation that found Walgreens employees dumping waste in bins destined for landfills instead of separate collection locations. And a compliance program was established eight years earlier under a under a $16.57 million settlement reached between Walgreens and 42 counties, including Riverside County. So much for the compliance program.

The “related laws” alleges Walgreens failed to shred or otherwise destroy customer records containing confidential information before disposal – a violation of California’s privacy laws.

Wages and Waste Link?


Purely speculation: if Walgreens workers were paid appropriately, might they have been more inclined to be more conscientious about taking out the trash, and maybe shredding customers’ records? If they were paid for all hours worked, maybe employees would have taken the time to properly dispose of pharmaceutical waste and corrosive materials into designated containers instead of dumping everything into open trash bins mixed with other garbage.

Walgreens Earnings


Reported by pyments.com on January 7, 2021, Walgreens Retail Pharmacy USA division had $27.2 billion in sales, marking a 3.9 percent rise from the year-ago quarter. CEO Stefano Pessina said, “Our first-quarter results exceeded expectations as we continue to deliver on our strategic priorities.” The public can only hope that one of their strategic priorities is proper waste disposal. And paying their employees according to the California labor law.

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