Lowe’s is a national home improvement and supplies chain. It’s a popular choice for Americans for purchasing appliances and home improvement materials for upgrading their homes. Although the company has a solid reputation among the general public, it’s had a history of legal ups and downs. Lowe’s was named in numerous lawsuits with fines, penalties, and court orders that mount into the billions collectively. Lowe’s settled many legal actions brought against them out of court with the records sealed, but some remain a public record. Here are the ten biggest Lowe’s lawsuits in company history.
10. Lowe’s sued in trip and fall lawsuit Settlement amount: $4 million
Law.com confirms that a Federal case was filed against Lowe’s titled Shultz v. Lowe’s Home Centers LLC. The plaintiff was shopping at a local Lowe’s Home Improvement store when she tripped and fell over a power cord. The cord was lying on the floor in her pathway. Brenda Schultz was outside of the store near a mobile market display for solar panel systems set up at the Turnersville, Lowe’s store when the incident occurred. She sustained injuries, medical expenses, pain, and suffering as a result of the fall. A jury awarded the plaintiff $4 million in compensation for the incident.
9. Lowe’s named as a defendant in class action lawsuit over Installation misclassification Settlement amount: $6.5 million
CPM Legal reports that a class-action lawsuit was filed against Lowes Home Improvement Centers LLC for misclassifying installers as independent contractors. Although Lowe’s did not break any laws, they were judged at fault for incorrectly classifying some installers as independent contractors, resulting in financial damages to the class of workers affected. Lowe’s agreed to provide compensation to correct the problem in the amount of up to $6.5 million. The group affected by the misclassification includes California contractors that performed installation services for Lowe’s in California between June 15, 2008, through June 26 of 2014.
8. Lowe’s fined in EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement amount: $8.6 million
The EEOC confirms Lowe’s Home Improvement and Appliance Store Chain were found guilty of discriminating against workers with disability. The federal agency investigated complaints that Lowe’s fired workers with disabilities because of a rigid leave policy. Lowe’s had violated the Americans with Disabilities act by its activities that showed a pattern of firing thousands of workers with disabilities. The company failed to provide them with reasonable accommodations and failed to grant medical leaves of absence when medical conditions required the absences. The EEOC’s investigation discovered the patterns that constituted clear violations of the ADA. Lowe’s was required to provide monetary relief for the workers affected. The court further ordered Lowe’s to retain and consult with ADA. They were required to train managers, supervisors, and staff in ADA rules and regulations. They were also ordered to review and revise the company’s policies.
7. Lowe’s named in a class-action wage lawsuit Settlement amount: $9.5 million
Pro Sales Magazine reports that a class-action lawsuit was filed against Lowe’s, claiming that the Home Improvement store misclassified as many as 1,750 of the store’s human resource managers to save money on wages. Plaintiffs alleged that the company had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Upon investigation and reporting of the facts, it became apparent that Lowe’s was in the wrong and had violated the FLSA. Lowe’s agreed to a settlement amount of $9.;5 million in compensation to the workers.
6. Lowe’s sued for misclassification of independent contractors Settlement amount: $10 million
A lawsuit was filed against Lowe’s for misclassifying independent contractors, but this lawsuit cost them more than the previous. Forbes reports that workers filed a legal dispute over allegations that they were misclassified by the company and it affected their pay. Contractors working for Lowe’s were classified by the company as independent contractors when they fit the definition of employees. Home improvement contractors, businesses, and individuals filed complaints that Lowe’s controlled all aspects of the installation jobs they performed. Further, Lowe’s managed each installation project. They set the fees for amounts each contractor would earn, and Lowe’s also imposed a non-compete covenant upon all installers. The case went before a federal judge who heard both sides of the story. The court ruled that Lowe’s had misclassified the workers. A settlement agreement for $10 million was struck to resolve the matter.
5. Lowe’s sued for ERISA violations Settlement amount: $12.5 million
ASPPA reports that benjamin Reetz filed a lawsuit against Lowe’s for making an unwise choice by retaining the Hewitt Growth Fund for the company ERISA plan. He alleged that the store was in breach of its fiduciary duties under ERISA because the fund was untested, yet added to the plan anyway. The fund underperformed. it was not a popular plan among many other subscribers. It’s unclear why Lowe’s would choose an underperforming and unpopular fund that went against the best interests of its workers. It was further alleged that the action was made out of self-interest and with bias. The Reetz v. Lowes Cos, WDNC resulted in Lowe’s settling for a payment of $12.5 million because of their actions. A series of orders were made to ensure that Lowe’s changes its policies in allocation for ERISA-related investments and that it takes steps to focus on the best interests of participants in its ERISA plans in the future.
4. Lowe’s sued in a personal injury lawsuit Settlement amount: $13 million
Lowe’s has had its share of slip and fall resulting in personal injury cases. Review-Journal reports that a woman was shopping at a local Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, in July of 2013. Kelly Hendrickson is a mother of three. The 38-year old woman was walking in the garden center, looking at a display of palm trees. The floor was covered with a wet and slimy substance from drainage leaking from the bottoms of planters in the area. She slipped and fell on the slick floor, striking her head. The woman was a bus driver at the time of the accident. She required emergency medical care. The fall caused a fracture of her skull with hemorrhaging at the front part of her brain. The injuries led to further health complications including a permanent loss of the senses of smell and taste. The incident forever changed her life and lowered the quality, taking away her ability to enjoy the smells and tastes she previously enjoyed. These are just two of the issues that the injury caused. the brain injury has also left her with increased levels of anxiety and bouts of depression. She also has problems maintaining her physical balance. She suffers from chronic headaches, and neck pain. The legal team representing Hendrickson requested a settlement of $40.6 million, claiming that lost earning capacity, medical expenses, and mental and physical pain and suffering justified the amount. Upon review of the case and the facts surrounding her injuries and quality of life, it was determined that Hendrickson was capable of training for a different job. Some of the requests were disallowed, but the judge did find Lowe’s Home Improvement Center liable for her medical expenses and personal injuries. They awarded the plaintiff $13 million for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages.
3. 2014 Lowe’s lawsuit for environmental violations Settlement amount: $18.1 million
Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC was investigated for claims that the company illegally disposed of hazardous wastes at its stores throughout the state of California. The complaint was filed with the Alameda County Superior Court. Judge George C. Hernandez presided over the proceedings. The legal proceeding was a civil environmental prosecution for committing illegal actions that violated EPA rules and regulations regarding the proper disposal of hazardous wastes. District Attorneys of Alameda, Solano, and San Joaquin counties asserted that 118 of the stores were guilty of unlawful handling of hazardous waste materials. The behaviors had gone on for more than six years. Lowe’s employees disposed of fluorescent bulbs containing mercury, electronic waste, batteries, adhesives, paint and colorant solvents, pesticides, aerosols, corrosive and ignitable materials, and other toxic waste products improperly. The actions of the stores posed threats to the health of the workers and to all other persons who may have inadvertently come in contact with the materials. Further, combining certain hazardous materials presents excessive health risks as dangerous chemical reactions may result from combining such wastes in the same trash receptacles. After a thorough investigation by state regulators and other concerned officials, four Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in Alameda County had illegally handled waste products. Stores throughout California totaling 118 had also mishandled the toxic materials and chemicals, sending the dangerous waste to public landfills, endangering the environment and the public. The judge ruled that Lowe’s violated local laws and regulations and ordered the company to pay $18.1 million on April 2, 2014, in court costs and civil penalties. Lowe’s got hit with additional charges of $2.075 million to fund environmental projects to further consumer protection and enforcement of laws and regulations for protection in California. A permanent injunction against Lowe’s to prevent the violations from happening in the future is in place.
2. Lowes named in lawsuit over customer not wearing a face mask Settlement amount: $20 million
A customer was shopping in a California Lowe’s store when a man in the aisle wasn’t wearing a face mask. The customer wearing a mask asked the man to wear a mask as he had underlying health issues and wanted to avoid infection. The customer didn’t get anywhere with the man, although he tried several times. He finally went to an employee of Lowe’s and asked him to speak with the man not wearing a mask. Lowe’s employee did not fulfill his request. He called the police, and when he was in the process, the maskless man spat in his face four times. The masked customer filed a lawsuit against Lowe’s for not dealing with the maskless customer. Lowe’s failed to follow mandates for wearing a mask in public places. Lowe’s did not have a policy in place. The employee had no policy backing him to support taking action to intervene in the situation. Lowe’s is now in a lawsuit for $20 million over the incident. It’s not likely that the company will escape paying punitive damages for its lack of policies and procedures, and no training for its employees during a pandemic. It’s going to be difficult for Lowe’s to defend its lack of response to a critical health situation that affects customers and the public at large.
1. Lowe’s Home Improvement Center sued for wage and hour violations Settlement amount: $29.5 million
Violation Tracker confirms that Lowe’s Home Improvement Center was sued for imposing unfair practices in employee wage and hour policies. Lowe’s required its workers to log off the clock, then continue to work for the company without paying for their time and efforts. The lawsuit of September 22, 2009, drew attention to unfair labor practices which were policy for the California-based store. The lawsuit was filed in civil court by Cynthia Parris et al in private litigation in the Superior Court of State of California in Los Angeles County, alleging that Lowe’s caused financial damage to workers by forcing them to engage in off-the-clock work, which is a violation of fair labor practices. The case went to trial and the jury found that Lowe’s policies requiring workers to go off the clock and remain on the premises were unfair to workers and compensation was due. If the company expects workers to continue to perform duties or remain on the premises for any amount of time, it must be paid. The court ordered the settlement amount of $29.5 million to resolve the issue and further required Lowe’s to change its policies on off-the-clock work.