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Court Rejects Janitors' Claims vs. Wal-Mart

PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here has upheld rulings by a lower court blocking janitors who worked at Wal-Mart from suing the retailer as a class, and it also rejected their claims that the company approved of allegedly illegal working conditions.

The court said the janitors should not be certified as a class because they worked at 180 different stores in 33 states for 70 different contractors and subcontractors and for varying hours and wages.

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The ruling stemmed from a case filed in late 2003 by individuals hired by contractors and subcontractors to work as janitors at Wal-Mart stores. The suit accused the retailer of encouraging contractors to pay lower wages and condoning unfair working conditions because the workers were illegal; it also charged that Wal-Mart sometimes locked them in the stores at nights and on weekends to prevent theft and to keep federal agents from finding them — a charge the court here rejected, saying Wal-Mart had offered evidence the stores had emergency exits available.

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