On Christmas Eve 2008, Wal-Mart agreed to settle nearly 65 state and federal class-action lawsuits filed by current and former employees. The heart of the claims made by the plaintiffs included allegations that they were forced to work through breaks and denied overtime pay that they had rightfully earned under federal law.
According to sources, Wal-Mart agreed to pay as much as $640 million to settle these suits. While this may seem like a large number, it is less than .1% of Wal-Mart’s $378.8 billion in revenue from 2008; revenue earned by multiple violations of Federal Wage and Hour laws and discrimination against it’s own employees.
This settlement comes right on the heels of the 12/9/08 settlement in Minnesota where Wal-Mart agreed to pay $54.3 million to settle a case where the sitting judge found that Wal-Mart had committed more than 2 million wage and hour violations and ordered Wal-Mart to pay it’s employees over $6 million dollars in back pay. This 12/9/08 settlement avoided a January 2009 trial where plaintiff’s were ready to document nearly $2 billion dollars in unpaid wages owed by Wal-Mart…….
A smart move by Wal-Mart considering their trial record on these employment/wage and hour cases:
1. In 2006 a Pennsylvania jury awarded Wal-Mart employees $78 million in unpaid wages;
2. In 2005 a California jury ordered Wal-Mart to pay $172 million in wrongfully denied wages arising out of meal breaks owed to it’s employees.
Wal-Mart isn’t the only Fortune 500 giant who has put profits ahead of it’s people. It seems that the worse this economy gets, the greater the lengths that employers will go to in an effort to earn a buck, including cheating it’s own employees.
If you, a friend or family member has been denied wages or have been discriminated against by your employer, contact an attorney immediately.
Mr. Smith has practiced as a trial attorney since graduating Notre Dame Law School in 1992. He has litigated cases across the country including cases from Ventura County, California to Middlesex County, New Jersey. He practices in both State and Federal courts.