Pa. Supreme Court rules against Wal-Mart in workers class-action suit

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that Walmart stores in Pennsylvania owe back-pay and damages to tens of thousands of employees, upholding previous court rulings and an awarded $151 million.


    The state’s high court majority opinion boils the case down to a central issue: That Wal-Mart Stores Inc. failed to pay its workers based on its own written policies.

    The ruling upholds a $151 million award for nearly 188,000 people working in Pennsylvania Walmart and Sam’s Club stores from 1998 to 2006. Plaintiffs argued they were compelled to work during their rest breaks, and beyond their paid shifts due to “chronic” understaffing of stores – and then, that they were not paid for their work.

    Wal-Mart attorneys argued that the case was an example of class action “run amok,” and that the only way to determine unfair payment would be to examine each individual employee. It could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

    “I think that would just be another example of Wal-Mart continuing to deprive its workers of the wages they’re owed and will continue to perpetuate the theft of wages that has occurred here,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Donovan of Donovan Axler in Philadelphia.

    Calls to lawyers for Wal-Mart were not immediately returned. A lower-court judge must still decide how much Wal-Mart must pay in attorney’s fees.

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