The decision came just in time for the Christmas break last year, making for a nice Yuletide gift for the plaintiffs involved - and there are a lot of them: 187,000 who worked for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from March 1998 through April 2006 and potentially stand to benefit from the decision, pending a possible appeal.
According to The Philadelphia Enquirer (12/16/14), the allegations, dating back to 2002 when the original lawsuit was brought on behalf of lead plaintiff Michelle Braun, involve a mandate to work through meal breaks and rest periods, as well as other forms of off-the-clock work. A jury in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court found, in 2006 when the case was tried, that the defendants were not at fault over the meal break issue, but in the same breath agreed that Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club had deprived employees of wages when they were required to toil during rest periods and at various other times when they were not on the clock, but still performing tasks.
The judge in the case, the honorable Mark I. Bernstein of the Common Pleas Court, awarded the plaintiffs a total of $151 million in wages and damages, together with $45 million in attorney’s fees.
Wal-Mart, according to the report, appealed to the Superior Court and argued that trying the case in any other fashion than having each of the 187,000 class members testifying individually, was simply unfair.
READ MORE UNPAID WAGES LEGAL NEWS
Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club may be pleading innocence in the unpaid wages claim, even though three different courts have sided with the plaintiffs. If Wal-Mart decides to pursue an appeal to the US Supreme Court, will the honorable justices dismiss the findings of a triumvirate of lower courts? Or will the process just delay the inevitable?
We will soon know. Meanwhile, with so many demands on an individual’s time in such a high-tech world, employees are taking an increasingly dim view of off-the-clock work for no pay, and are letting their unpaid wages attorney know that they are more than willing to fight back…