PHILADELPHIA — A group of 187,000 Walmart employees from Pennsylvania recently won a resounding victory against their employer after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a $224 million judgement for wage thefts perpetrated by the Arkansas-based retail giant.
The appeal’s denial brings to a close a nearly 14-year legal endeavor by the class of plaintiffs to receive the back pay they were rightfully owed.
The case began like many class action lawsuits, a small group of employees with similar claims banding together and filing suit against a powerful entity. By the time the case went to trial, the class of plaintiffs ballooned to almost 200,000 individuals and half a dozen other similar class action wage theft lawsuits were filed against Walmart.
Employees in the suit allege their employer forced them to work during lunch breaks, stay late after work off the clock, and do whatever it took to get tasks done on Walmart’s schedule.
Some plaintiffs even allege they were locked in their buildings at night and made to work without pay.
Award increases at interest acrues
A Philadelphia jury handed down the original verdict in 2006, awarding plaintiffs $140 million in stolen wages. During the lengthy appeals process, that award swelled to the current $224 million with interest.
The defendant argued against the class action certification and claimed each of the nearly 200,000 plaintiffs should have to testify at trial about their own experience.
A Pennsylvania Supreme Court disagreed with Walmart’s attorneys and certified the verdict in 2014.
That ruling was particularly important because if would have had wide ranging ramifications on how much testimony members of class action lawsuits would have to testify at trial.
Other plaintiffs in similar wage theft lawsuits against Walmart did agree to file individual claims against the retailer but the attorneys for the class in this particular case declined such a move. As a result of this wage theft lawsuit and many others, Walmart claims to have instituted more robust time-tracking systems to prevent store managers from taking advantage of their workers.
Wage Theft Lawsuits
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Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.