Wal-Mart Settles with WA Workers over Pay for Breaks

July 28, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay up to $35 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of 88,000 workers at Washington state stores who say they were forced to skip meal and rest breaks or work off the clock.

The Associated Press reports that the retail giant and lawyers for the workers jointly announced that a King County Superior Court judge has given final approval to the deal.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers will receive $10.5 million for eight years of legal fees. Three workers who brought the lawsuit will receive $10,000 each, and other workers will get between $50 and $950, depending on how long they worked for Wal-Mart and how much detail they can provide about the violations they suffered, according to the AP.

Class members must file their claims by August 19.

The settlement also requires Wal-Mart to continue steps it has taken to prevent wage and hour violations at its 50 stores and Sam’s Clubs in Washington, said Beth Terrell, a Seattle lawyer for the Washington plaintiffs, according to the news report.

After losing court rulings in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, Wal-Mart announced in December it would pay as much as $640 million to settle 63 lawsuits across the country over wage and hour violations (see Wal-Mart Hammers Out Sweeping Wage and Hour Suits Settlement ). Each settlement had to be approved by courts. Only cases in California and Pennsylvania went to trial, and those verdicts are on appeal, Terrell said.

“This lawsuit was filed years ago and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore said in a news release, according to the AP. “Our policy is to pay associates for every hour worked and to make rest and meal breaks available.”