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California Labor Law Backs Wal-Mart Truckers

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San Francisco, CALast month a federal jury awarded Walmart truckers over $54 million, deciding that Walmart had violated the California labor law by not paying their drivers minimum wage. No doubt truckers nationwide have taken note…

The lawsuit dates back to 2008, before it was moved to federal court and gained class action status in September 2014. ( The lawsuit is Ridgeway et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., et al case number 3:08-cv-05221 in US District Court, Northern District of California.) A Walmart spokesperson in June, 2015 told LawyersandSettlements that its drivers earn “$80,000 to over $100,000 per year…We disagree with the district court’s decision. There has been no finding that any Walmart driver has not been paid minimum wage for each hour worked. We intend to continue to defend the company against the claim.”

In its employee manuals Walmart require that drivers must not drive within 10 hours of a previous shift. The compensation for that mandatory layover is $42, or $4.20 an hour. The retail giant’s argument was that drivers weren’t working during those 10 hours.

One of those explicitly listed activities was layovers. The Walmart manuals require that drivers must not drive within 10 hours of a previous stint. The compensation for that mandatory layover is $42, or $4.20 an hour. So a driver would be paid $42 for a 10-hour layover. Drivers argued that this “requirement” was Walmart’s answer to not paying a security guard onsite with the truck, and the court agreed. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said that Walmart “exercised a high level of control over its drivers” by denying them layover money if they slept at home or outside the truck cab. And the California labor code defines hours worked as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.”

As well as the layover issue, Walmart’s employee manuals say that drivers don’t get paid while routine scheduled equipment maintenance is performed, during government inspections or when stopped for a highway weigh scale because they are already paid with mileage money. But Judge Illston again disagreed with Walmart’s argument because “the wheels of the truck are spinning as it moves across the scale,” according to

The number of drivers increased since the initial lawsuit from 500 to more than 800 who worked for Walmart between October 2005 and October 2015. They sought $72 million in damages, most of which arose from layover compensation. During the trial, drivers’ attorneys said that Walmart could be on the hook for more than $150 million in additional damages and penalties. Will this ruling set a precedence for drivers nationwide, and not just Walmart? The judicial wheels may soon be turning for truckers…


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