Steve worked at Costco for 17 years, eight of which were in Texas and the rest in Chico, California. (He was terminated in November 2008.) Both store locations he worked in followed the same "locking in" procedures; now that the suit is nationwide, he intends to join the California class-action suit filed by Mary Pytelewski on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated Costco employees.
"I started working at Costco in November 1991 and became supervisor shortly after being hired," says Steve, who was paid hourly. "We were told to clock out after 8 hours but we couldn't leave the building until management placed the jewelry in the vault. Sometimes there would only be two of us locked in the building, other times six or more, depending upon what time your shift ended. For instance, if your shift started at noon, you would clock out at 8.30 pm, but if the front door is closed by 8.30 and you don't get out before the door is closed, you could be stuck there for 30 minutes or even an hour.
"We never got paid overtime.
"We had no choice but to wait. And you've been on your feet all day. Sometimes we would go to the break room and sit and bitch about it—you're tired and you want to go home. It was so annoying, especially when you have a life outside those Costco doors. Maybe you have to pick up the kids, maybe someone is waiting outside to drive you home—and they have to wait too!
"If you want to move up the Costco ladder, you never complain. Even if you are tired or mad, if you walked out that door when managers finished up administrative duties, you wouldn't have a job the next day. I learned to shut my mouth and that's how I stayed with the company for so long.
"A few months ago I came across this overtime issue on LawyersandSettlements: a full-time clerk filed a lawsuit against Costco for $50 million for being held hostage—she was locked inside the store while off the clock. I was held hostage at least twice a week for almost a decade. So many times coworkers and I knew the door was closing and we would clock out and literally run to the front door only to find it was too late—locked in.
READ MORE OVERTIME LEGAL NEWS
The Costco overtime class-action lawsuit was filed in May 2009 in California Superior Court and removed to federal court by the defendants. The plaintiffs allege that Costco, the Washington-based membership warehouse chain, locked employees in the store at the end of their shift until managers finished duties such as emptying cash registers and removing jewelry from display cases. In so doing, Costco is in violation of California wage and hour laws and federal statute, regardless of whether employees were locked in the store 10 minutes or one hour.