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Pennsylvania Jury Finds Wal-Mart Liable In Employee Overtime/Rest Breaks Class Action Case And Awards $78 Million In Damages Plus Attorney Fees

Defense Attorneys Plan to Appeal Jury Verdict that Wal-Mart Failed to Provide Employees with Rest Breaks and Overtime, and that Wal-Mart Acted in Bad Faith

The jury is in on a labor law class action on behalf of 187,000 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees brought in Pennsylvania state court. The lawsuit alleged that employees were not provided rest breaks and were required to work “off the clock,” depriving them of overtime pay. The jury awarded $78.5 million in damages, and that figure may be dramatically increased because the jury also found that Wal-Mart acted in bad faith, opening the door to an additional $62 million in damages, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers. The jury agreed with defense attorneys that Wal-Mart had not forced employees to work through meal breaks. Several news sources have reported on the verdict, including Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times and James Covert of the Wall Street Journal.

The case follows a $172 million award in California class action against the nation’s largest retailer on behalf of 116,000 employees. That action, which alleged that Wal-Mart violated state law by failing to give employees 30-minute meal breaks, is presently on appeal. Wal-Mart also reportedly settled a Colorado class action for $50 million. Mr. Covert notes that at least seven other class actions are pending against Wal-Mart, including a federal sex-discrimination suit facing on behalf of 1.6 million female workers.

Steven Greenhouse’s article, entitled “Wal-Mart Told to Pay $78 Million,” may be found in Section C of the October 14, 2006 edition of the New York Times. James Covert’s article, entitled, “Wal-Mart Loses Pennsylvania Suit on Rest Breaks,” may be found on page A4 of the October 13, 2006 edition of the Wall Street Journal.