Wal-Mart to Settle MN Break Time Suit

December 10, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Tuesday it will pay as much as $54.25 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleges the retailer violated Minnesota labor laws, the Associated Press reports.

In July, a Minnesota state judge awarded $6.5 million in compensatory damages to Wal-Mart workers in the state after finding the giant retailer violated state labor laws more than two million times by not giving employees meal and rest breaks and “willfully” not stopping managers from having employees work off the clock (See Wal-Mart Hit with $6.5M Payment in MN Comp Case).

The company faced a second trial in October on state law violations in front of a jury. Minnesota’s statute provides for fines of up to $1,000 per violation of state labor law, so Wal-Mart’s liability could total more than $2 billion with the funds going to state coffers, and punitive damages could have been awarded to class members at the second trial.

The class includes about 100,000 current and former hourly workers who were employed at Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Clubs in Minnesota from September 11, 1998, through November 14, 2008, the AP said. A preliminary hearing for approval of the settlement will be on January 14.

Wal-Mart faced similar allegations in Pennsylvania and California (See PA Jury Finds Wal-Mart Violated Labor Laws).