Wage and hour lawsuits spread far beyond the oil fields. Wal-Mart, the country's largest employer of private employees (non-federal), was recently crushed with a $188 million order by the PA Supreme Court this week because it failed to give its workers the proper amount of time for meals and breaks. In the class action case titled Braun & Hummel v. Wal-Mart that was first filed in 2002, the lawsuit will encompass the eight years between 1998 and 2006.
The initial ruling was made back in 2006. Wal-Mart appealed the decision in 2011. This past Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave its answer to that appeal from three years ago, dialing up a near-$200 million penalty. According to those close to the case, aside from attorneys' fees, the court mostly stood firm on its decision from five years ago.
According to a Wal-Mart spokesperson: "We disagree with the decision and...believe that these claims should not be bundled together into a...lawsuit. We are reviewing the opinion closely and considering our options... Wal-Mart has...strong policies in place to make sure all [workers] receive their appropriate pay and break periods." The spokesperson also says that the company has taken steps to ensure all of Wal-Mart's associates understand the importance of the policies.
The class action lawsuit represented about 187,000 Pennsylvania Wal-Mart employees in the eight years between 1998 and 2006. The class action alleges that employees were promised to be paid during the time they were taken away from their breaks, but ultimately never were.
Court officials found that Wal-Mart owed at least $78.5 million in unpaid monies to people who worked while they were "off the clock" in the time between March of 1998 and April of 2006. The judge during the trial decided to award an additional $62.2 million in "statutory liquidated damages," as well as $10.2 million in prejudgment interest, $33.8 million in statutory attorneys' fees, and $11.9 million in non-statutory attorneys' fees.
This decision will require Wal-Mart to pay all post-judgment interest at 6% that dates back to the original 2007 judgment. Requests to take inflation into consideration were denied.
This order is going to hit the profits for Wal-Mart who said it will incur a charge of roughly more than a nickel per share in its fourth quarter earnings. That movement amounts to roughly 4% of its profit forecast of $1.50 for the end of the year.
Giant companies will skim any way that they can. If you feel you have a wage and hour case against your employer, please contact the Pennsylvania wage and hour attorneys at Goodrich & Geist for a free consultation at 412-766-1455 or 800-806-2456 today for a free consultation.