Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wal-Mart intentionally failed to pay hundreds of truck drivers in California the minimum wage, a federal jury decided Wednesday, awarding the drivers more than $54 million in damages

There were 11 claims for the jury to decide on, and they found in favor of the truckers in 4, and in 7 they didn't.

The seven jurors returned the verdict in a lawsuit accusing the company of not properly paying drivers in accordance with California law for activities that included inspecting and washing their trucks and for layovers.

More than 800 drivers who worked for Wal-Mart between October 2005 and October 2015 sought $72 million in damages, the bulk of it for layovers when they say they are required to stay with their trucks. Their attorneys said at trial that additional damages and penalties could push the total Wal-Mart owed to more than $150 million. A judge will determine civil penalties.

"The facts in the law clearly show that these drivers were not paid for all the duties they did, like the pre-and post-trip inspections, and they were not paid for their rest breaks," said Butch Wagner, attorney for the drivers.

Wal-Mart drivers are not paid by the hour. Wages are based on mileage and specified activities.

The drivers' attorneys pointed to a ruling in their favor from U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who said last year that Wal-Mart would be in violation of California law if it enforced its driver pay manuals because they say no pay is earned for certain tasks.

Wal Mart, of course, will appeal

In May 2015, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled on a summary judgment motion, finding the payment policy laid out in Wal-Mart’s driver manual violates California wage law.

Judge Illston also found last year that Wal-Mart violated state wage laws because it did not compensate drivers for pre- and post-trip inspections, washing their trucks, fueling, weighing their load, waiting at vendor and store locations, performing adjustments, complying with Department of Transportation inspections, meeting with driver coordinators and taking the rest breaks required by California law.

The case is Charles Ridgeway et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. et al., case number 3:08-cv-05221, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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