Costco Wholesale, the warehouse club, was sued by a California worker alleging false imprisonment because, she says, employees are locked in stores against their will for 15 minutes after they are off duty.

Mary Pytelewski, a cash register clerk at a San Marcos, Calif., Costco warehouse, accused the company of violating wage laws by refusing to allow workers to clock back in and be paid for the extra time they were locked in while managers closed stores, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in state court in San Diego.

“They’ve been locking people in at the end of the day, clocking people out and making them wait for a manager to let them out,” David Sanford, Ms. Pytelewski’s lawyer, said. “They claim it’s because of loss prevention or security concerns. That doesn’t make any sense. Even if you have loss prevention or security concerns, you still have to pay people.”

The complaint, which seeks to represent several hundred Costco workers in California, asks for $50 million in back pay plus damages from 2005 until the present.

Ms. Pytelewski also says she was retaliated against when she complained about the practice.

Bob Nelson, a spokesman for Costco, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

New York Times