Wal-Mart requests protective order in wrongful termination case

David Yates May 4, 2010, 6:42am

In January 2009, six former Wal-Mart employees filed a lawsuit against the mega-retailer, alleging the company wrongfully terminated them for completing an employee survey more than once.

After being bounced between federal and state courts for the last year, the case finally settled in Jefferson County Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court – where Wal-Mart is currently seeking a protective order.

A hearing on the matter has been slated for May 14. As of May 4, no motion was on file in the Jefferson County district clerk's office.

The suit was originally filed Jan. 14, 2009, in Jefferson County District Court by plaintiffs Sue Criswell, Glen Childers, Evelyn James, Cynthia Franks, Rochelle Durisseau and Cynthia Crain.

Along with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., other defendants named in the suit include Wal-Mart No. 499 in Port Arthur and seven upper management Wal-Mart employees.

In their suit, the plaintiffs contend they were "loyal and long term employees."

In January 2008, the former employees were asked to take an "Associate Personal Opinion Survey," and were told they could take the survey more than once in order to reflect that 100 percent of store employees completed the survey.

The plaintiffs contend that management informed them that the survey was confidential. However, after it was discovered Wal-Mart No. 499 scored low, the plaintiffs were pulled into the manager's office and questioned.

"Toward the end of February 2008 ... some of the plaintiffs were asked if they had any complaints and responded that they weren't pleased that their wages had been capped," the suit states. "On March 3, 2008, each plaintiff was escorted into (the manager's) office and was told they were being fired for gross misconduct and integrity issues, and taking the survey more than once."

The three count suit accuses Wal-Mart of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and negligent supervision.

The plaintiffs are suing for actual and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees.

They are represented by Houston attorney Larry Watts.

Wal-Mart is represented by Melissa Judd, attorney for the Littler Mendelson law firm in Houston.

Case No. E183-026

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