Kroger payroll glitch short-changed workers, lawsuits claim

Kroger has a new payroll system that has delayed or short changed thousands of workers of their pay, according to its union and multiple lawsuits.

The nation’s largest supermarket chain, which operates nearly 2,800 stores under the Kroger, Fred Meyer and other banners, activated a new computer system last year that has been plagued by glitches.

After months of persistent problems, its largest union, United Food and Commercial Workers International, said in late December it had filed multiple grievances and complaints and urged Kroger to reimburse workers and fix its system.

“We continue to hear from our local unions that thousands of members did not receive their most recent paycheck − This is simply unacceptable,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone, in a statement. “Working Americans across the country are all dealing with the impact of inflation and one missed paycheck is enough to throw most households into uncertainty.”

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Here in Greater Cincinnati, a Northern Kentucky delivery driver filed a lawsuit over late and missing paychecks.

Brandon Wilder, a delivery driver in Union since October, filed suit in November after Kroger paid him two weeks late on one weekly paycheck and failed to pay him at all for three other weeks.

“Wilder’s fellow drivers and warehouse workers are also experiencing identical issues with their pay,” according to the lawsuit filed in the US District Court of Southern Ohio, which is seeking class-action status.

Kevin Garvey, the president of UFCW Local 75 representing Kroger workers in Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky, said payroll glitch complaints have been widespread.

“The entire Kroger enterprise has been affected,” he told The Enquirer. In a December letter to union members, Garvey solicited employees to report their specific issues and had filed a grievance on behalf of affected workers.

Kroger’s payroll woes come as it seeks to become an even larger US employer. In October, the Cincinnati-based retailer unveiled a $25 billion proposal to take over industry rival Albertsons. The deal, which regulators have expressed concerns about approving, would transform it from a retailer with 2,800 stores and 420,000 workers into a company with more than 4,500 stores and upwards of 700,000 employees.

In court documents, Kroger attorneys say the company follows employment laws and “acted in good faith.”

In the meantime, other pay-related lawsuits have been filed over payroll issues:

  • Amelia Sapphire, a bakery worker for Kroger’s Fred Meyer subsidiary in Vancouver, Washington, south in December claiming a list of issues, including the new payroll system caused late or missed paychecks; canceled direct deposits; incorrect payment amounts; incorrect hours recorded; incorrect deductions and withholdings. The lawsuit blasted Fred Meyer for the sloppy computer system rollout. “Fred Meyer knew or should have known in advance of activating the new payroll system that it would cause widespread pay issues,” according to the lawsuit, which is also seeking class-action status.
  • Four other Kroger employees filed suit last week in US District Court in Richmond, Virginia.
  • Donald Austin, a general manager in Appomattox, Virginia, claimed in a lawsuit Kroger paid him late and also deducted unauthorized amounts from his paychecks.
  • Deborah Winston, a drug clerk in Mechanicsville, Virginia, said Kroger failed to pay her the overtime rate for nearly 15 hours of overtime she worked in December.
  • Sharon Simpson, a cheese shop clerk in Charlestown, West Virginia, said she worked for five weeks in August and September and never got a paycheck.
  • Lori Dalton, a deli baker in Saint Albans, West Virginia, joined the suit because she said she was charged twice for her spouse’s insurance from each paycheck for seven weeks.

In addition to Kroger stores, the grocer operates several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others.

For the latest on Kroger, P&G, Fifth Third Bank and Cincinnati business, follow @alexcoolidge on Twitter.