MA Judge Orders Wal-Mart Compensation Case Declared a Class Action

September 25, 2008 ( - A Massachusetts appellate court has overturned a lower court ruling that refused to certify as a class action an employee lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores over its compensation practices.

Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts sent the case back to Superior Court with an order for class action certification Salvas v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which involves claims about meal breaks and the alleged nonpayment of wages, the National Law Journal reported. After the case is declared a class action, it is expected to represent about 67,500 current and former Wal-Mart hourly workers who worked at 47 Wal-Mart stores in Massachusetts, the news report says.

Marshall assesrted that the lower court judge improperly granted Wal-Mart’s motion to exclude the plaintiffs’ expert’s testimony. She rejected the notion that the fact that Wal-Mart’s labor policies are designed to apply to the entire nationwide company and not simply Massachusetts should defeat the class certification efforts.

“Wal-Mart’s business records at issue in this case satisfy all of the requirements to be afforded the usual presumption of reliability,” Marshall wrote in the ruling. “Both the timekeeper records and the point-of-sale register records were ‘made in good faith in the regular course of business’ before this action began.”

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore told the Law Journal the company is reviewing the order, but that the “majority of courts” have denied class status to such cases because the experiences of each individual are unique. “It is our policy to pay every associate for every hour worked and to provide rest and meal breaks,” Moore told the newspaper. “Any manager who violates that policy is subject to discipline up to and including termination.”

The latest ruling is available  here .