Why Trader Joe's Just Lost A $44,000 Employee Lawsuit

If you read or watch the news, you know that at any given time someone is being sued for something. That's just the way things go. Even Trader Joe's, voted by YouGovAmerica as the most popular grocery store in the United States, has faced its fair share of lawsuits over the years.

In late 2021, for example, environmentalists sued Trader Joe's for a particularly scary reason: dangerously high levels of lead found in numerous grocery items (via Insider). The products in question weren't labeled as containing lead, causing more upset.

Earlier this year, a customer sued Trader Joe's over yet another mislabeling of a product. According to the lawsuit, labeling a juice as "cold-pressed" leads customers to believe the product contains no preservatives when this is not the case (via Top Class Actions).

The latest case against Trader Joe's comes not from its customers but, rather, from its employees. One Trader Joe's employee sued the chain store back in 2016 in relation to "unfair labor practices," per Thrillist, and this time isn't much different. 

Trader Joe's broke Seattle's scheduling law

Those who have worked in fast food or grocery retail know that shifts can fluctuate from week to week. Because of this, it's important that workers get their schedule as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly. After all, they have families, friends, personal lives, and more to manage outside of their work hours, and the wages that grocery workers really make may require them to pick up jobs outside of the grocery store, too.

However, a Trader Joe's location in Seattle, Washington, now has to pay more than $44,000 to its employees after the store was found to be violating local law. This "secure scheduling law," says the Seattle Times, requires retailers like Trader Joe's to post schedules for hourly workers at least 14 days in advance of when the schedules begin. In accordance with the Seattle Labor Standards, the store must also post both the schedule and scheduling policies where employees can easily access them. Otherwise, employees won't fully understand their rights or when they are to work.

The store in question failed to post its employee schedules on time through much of 2021. The $44,000 settlement will be split among 129 current and former employees, with an additional $575 fine being paid to the city of Seattle. Now, we may have insight into what it's really like to work at Trader Joe's.