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$187M Walmart Class Action Upheld; Precedent Strong for Paid Rest Breaks When Mandatory


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The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v Michelle Braun, a class action lawsuit which the retail giant was ordered to pay $187.6 million in backpay for rest breaks and off-the-clock work that the company’s policy mandated.  The court decision is a victory for workers, but WalMart has indicated that the legal battle is not over.  WalMart also suggests that their policies have changed since the decade-old claims were made.

The class in the case includes all Pennsylvania WalMart workers from 1998 to early 2006.  Donovan Litigation Group, the workers’ legal firm, says that interest means the company actually owes $224 million.

Following the SCOTUS decision, Making Change at WalMart (MCAW) released a statement contextualizing the victory:

“Today, the highest court of the United States affirmed that Walmart workers have the right to be paid for every hour of hard work, not just the hours that Walmart wishes to acknowledge. Earlier this year, a labor board administrative law judge ruled in favor of Walmart workers who were unlawfully retaliated against for participating in strikes. The tide is turning in this country against Walmart.

The world’s largest retailer won’t be able to continue to mistreat its workers and get away with it. Walmart workers, when they come together, have a powerful voice that cannot be silenced, and these recent rulings are a testament to the countless hours of work they do every day, as well as their commitment to being treated fairly and with respect.”

The WalMart case was one of three class actions rejected by the high court.  As Forbes notes, the rejections reflect the new direction the court is likely to take following the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia.  


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