New York has filed a $4.4 million lawsuit against Costco in federal court, claiming the chain violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by requiring its employees to spend time preparing food.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges Costco violated federal labor laws by requiring workers to spend hours preparing food, including preparation of frozen meals, according to a copy of the suit obtained by CBC News.
Costco’s statement to CBC News said it is “deeply disappointed” with the lawsuit and “takes the allegations seriously.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Costco also released a statement Tuesday, saying the company’s “food service industry is an inclusive, diverse, dynamic and competitive one.
We have a strong and diverse team working to serve our customers, and we are working closely with the law enforcement and labor enforcement agencies to address this matter.”
The lawsuit is the latest development in a yearlong battle between Costco and the New Yorkers Food Lion program.
The program, launched in 2015 to help people with food insecurity in New York City, relies on individuals who work at Costco warehouses in Manhattan and Brooklyn to prepare food for their families.
According to a statement from the program’s executive director, Jennifer McDaniel, Costco employees have to work from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some are required to spend up to two hours a day preparing food for themselves.
McDaniel said that, as of Monday, the program had served more than 1,200 individuals.