The Home Depot in Lynnwood on Sept. 3. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

The Home Depot in Lynnwood on Sept. 3. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Lawsuit: Home Depot doesn’t give workers enough breaks

The suit could cover at least 10,000 employees across the retailer’s 45 locations in Washington.

EVERETT — Home Depot stores in Washington don’t give its hourly employees their legally-required breaks, alleges a lawsuit filed late last month against the company.

The potential class action suit, filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, could cover at least 10,000 employees across the home improvement retailer’s 45 locations in Washington.

State regulations require employees be allowed a 30-minute meal break between the second and fifth hours of their shift. Employers are also mandated to give workers rest breaks of at least 10 minutes every four hours. Home Depots, like the one in Everett, did not comply with these requirements, the 10-page complaint claims. The lawsuit says this occurs because Home Depot stores are “intentionally staffed at minimal levels,” causing chronic understaffing.

“It’s a safety issue in a lot of occupations and a human decency issue in all of them,” Seattle attorney Duncan Turner said.

Turner is no stranger to high-profile cases. He was the lead attorney for thousands of workers in SeaTac who sued their employers for not paying a $15 per hour minimum wage. That lawsuit ended in an $8.2 million settlement for the employees.

Companies also must keep records of workers, including dates of employment, hours worked and wages. Those records have to be available to the employees upon request.

“Because of its chronic understaffing, Home Depot’s hourly retail employees are often unable to take the meal and rest breaks required by law, and Home Depot fails to accurately keep track of the missed breaks and fails to compensate these workers for the missed breaks,” the lawsuit argues.

The model worker in this case for these concerns is Richard Didzun. In 2015, he trained at a Home Depot in Bothell. Then, until 2019, he worked at the retailer’s Everett location before moving to the Aberdeen store last September.

Home Depot also faces a lawsuit in federal court brought on behalf of the retailer’s hourly-paid supervisors and specialists. The complaint in that case, which originated in King County last June, claims supervisors often miss their rest and meal breaks because of understaffing. Dozens of employees from across Washington, however, have filed statements in court saying they rarely, if ever, missed breaks.

One employee at the Home Depot in Everett wrote there was a document next to the time clock saying workers must take lunch before the fifth hour of their shifts. Another staffer at the store in Snohomish said his meal breaks were late at least half of the time. He got rest breaks 10% of the time, the employee wrote in court documents.

Home Depot officials could not be reached for comment.

Most of the workers covered in the new lawsuit won’t overlap with those in this federal case, Turner said.

Attorneys haven’t started reaching out to workers like Didzun who could have missed breaks. The case isn’t considered a class action lawsuit until it is certified as such by a judge, Turner said.

Despite his allegations, Didzun likes Home Depot, Turner said.

“He just thinks he should be entitled to a break and everybody else should,” he said.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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