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District Judge Certifies Collective Action Against Walmart For Drivers’ Overtime Claims

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that all employees working within the United States must be paid no less than $7.25 per hour for all of the time that they spend working. This is true regardless of how the employee gets paid, whether it is on commission, a salary, or on a piece-rate basis.

According to a new wage and hour lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart, the retail chain paid its truck drivers on a piece-rate basis that allegedly resulted in the drivers getting paid less than minimum wage for the time that they spent working for Wal-Mart. According to the lawsuit, the drivers were allegedly paid only $42 for 10-hour layovers.

The class action lawsuit also alleges that drivers were denied meal and rest breaks. Under California labor law, all employees working within the state of California (where the lawsuit was filed) are entitled to a paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours that they spend working. For every five hours worked, the employee is entitled to an unpaid meal break of at least thirty minutes. For every day that one of these breaks is missed, for any reason, the law mandates that the employer must pay the worker one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages earned that day.

The lawsuit alleges that the piece-rate basis on which the drivers were paid did not take into account all of the mandatory tasks that the drivers were required to perform as part of their duties. These tasks include washing, fueling and weighing the trucks, and filling out paperwork.

The lawsuit also alleges that Wal-Mart failed to provide the truck drivers with accurate wage statements. Under the FLSA, employers are required to provide all of their workers with accurate wage statements detailing the number of hours that the employees worked, how much they were paid, and all deductions made to the employees’ pay.

District Judge Susan Illston certified the class for all claims except the wage statement claim. In her decision, she noted that, “While Wal-Mart argues that there are varying circumstances in which individual drivers may be granted pay at the discretion of general transportation managers, this does not negate plaintiffs’ assertion that there is a general default policy, defined in the driver reference and pay manuals, against paying drivers for certain tasks.”

Wal-Mart argued that the class should be decertified because the plaintiffs did not show how they could determine which drivers performed which tasks or how much time was spent on each task. Judge Illston dismissed this argument, pointing out that the class has common questions concerning Wal-Mart’s pay formula, which allow for class certification regarding wages and wait times.

Judge Illston did note though, that if the alleged length of time spent performing mandatory duties such as washing and fueling varies too greatly among the class members, then Wal-Mart will be able to move to decertify the class.

The plaintiffs estimate that as many as 500 truck drivers are eligible to participate in the class. Wal-Mart denies the claims.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Marshalls, TJ Max, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.