Judge Orders Wal-Mart To Pay $6.5 Million For Violating Labor Laws

The AP reports that in a class-action lawsuit, a Minnesota judge ordered that Wal-Mart pay $6.5 million in compensatory damages for violating state labor laws 2-million times. Violations were incurred when the company reduced break time for employees and “willfully” allowed them to work off the clock. Other infractions include the failure to keep time records and denying employees time for meal breaks. Details, inside…

The article says,

Dakota County Judge Robert King Jr. on Monday ordered Wal-Mart to pay $6.5 million in compensatory damages, but Wal-Mart could end up paying more than $2 billion after a jury in October considers civil penalties and punitive damages.

The judge said Wal-Mart should have known the employees were working off the clock while at computer-based training terminals and “willfully allowed” it to continue. The company also failed to provide employees with rest breaks more than 1.5 million times and shortened employees’ breaks more than 44,000 times, according to the order.

Wal-Mart was also found in violation of statutes relating to making and keeping employee time records and failing to let employees have any time for a meal break. While the plaintiffs won’t receive compensatory damages for those violations, Wal-Mart is subject to a $1,000 civil penalty for each incident.

The ruling, which was given to the parties Monday evening, comes after judgments against Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania and California found similar violations.

In Pennsylvania, workers won a $78.5 million judgment in 2006 for working off the clock and through rest breaks. A $172 million verdict against Wal-Mart in 2005 found the company illegally denied lunch breaks in California. Wal-Mart is appealing those rulings.

May justice be fair and swift.

Minn. judge rules against Wal-Mart on work breaks [AP] (Thanks to Erik!)
(Photo: chasingfun)


Edit Your Comment

  1. sleze69 says:

    $3.25/violation doesn’t sound like a lot.

  2. TCameron says:

    @sleze69: 2nd that!

  3. celticgina says:

    Obligatory blame the workers for working at Walmart post!

  4. @sleze69: yeah, but with the punitive that could go up to $1000/incident. That ain’t chump-change.

  5. I am SOO glad I have not set foot in a Walmart!!

    (since 2 days ago)

  6. Televiper says:

    Obviously it isn’t good enough to pay bottom of the barrel wages. At least somebody out there represents the little guy.

  7. Televiper says:

    @Televiper: So I’m not misinterpreted , it isn’t good enough savings for Wal*Mart.

  8. Cap'n Jack says:

    Hooray! That’s 1 for the justice system! Now if only we could jail some Countrywide execs, then we’d be all set!

  9. MrWashy says:

    May justice be fair and swift.

    I’m glad there is finally justice. As for swift, WallylWorld will just file appeal upon appeal. Those workers are in serious need of a union.

  10. Wow, a judge voting in favor of the little guys. Who would of thunk it?

  11. Angryrider says:

    Ch… $6.5 million? That’s laughable, considering Wal-Mart gets 10 times that screwing America over.

  12. Chairman-Meow says:

    Gee Golly…you would have thought that they would gotten the message the first time they got their asses handed to them.

    I wonder how many more times Walmart* will keep doing this before someone in the boardroom finally says “You know, that wasn’t such a good idea after all….”

  13. MrWashy says:

    @EE: I’m surprised then when they were employed they weren’t forced to sign an arbitration contract!

  14. Bladefist says:

    I wonder how much money the workers will get.

    @Ash78: Yea, I refuse to go to wal-mart today or tomorrow for this. This is absurd.

  15. Smitherd says:

    Heh. That is ridiculous.

    I have friends who work at Walmart and have been told of pretty horrible experiences. I didn’t think it was anything like denying lunch breaks and things like that.

    Stupid Walmart. Unfortunately, a logo change can’t change what’s inside.

  16. Noiddog says:

    Hey Walmart, how much money you got in your wallet right now? $6.5 Million? Ah… that’s good. We’ll just use that.

  17. howiedi2 says:

    If the workers are working while off the clock, isn’t that their fault? If you’re off the clock, you should stay out of work areas. I just don’t have a lot of sympathy for the workers in this case. This whole story makes them sound so down trodden and pitiful but, imagine the labor issues in Mexico or in China. We’re very pampered here.

  18. @Angryrider: Yeah, I’m guessing they paid in pocket money right there in the courtroom, a la Mr. Burns.

    “I’ll take that statue of Justice, too.”

  19. hardtoremember says:

    Walmart has proven unequivocally that they do not care about their employees. I rarely shop their but sadly I still do sometimes.
    Hopefully they lose enough money that they clean up their act.

  20. Bourque77 says:

    So the workers get nothing and wal mart gets a slap on the wrist?

  21. @Bourque77: Pretty much. I’m still gonna buy some food from Wal-Mart some time this week, though. In the long run, they aren’t going to do anything differently, and the amount of money they’re having to pay because of these suits is moot.

  22. vpsychward1 says:

    You have to realize that the $6.5 million is the estimated ACTUAL loss of pay to the workers. Denying a lunch break or shortening a lunch break would cost up to $4 or $5 there. Also working off the clock was something the workers would have been forced to do. It just happens that no one can prove it.

    I love how it will cost them $2 Billion in just one state. Can you imagine if they got hit with fines like that in every state? That would be nice.

  23. Jesse says:

    Minnesota is a liberal state, so I am not surprised by this.

    Supporters of this ruling act like this was the only company denying meal breaks, shorting breaks and making people finish the jobs they started off the clock while trying to leave after doing a half-assed job.

    I’m shocked that they didn’t fine Wal-Mart more for locking the doors at night to keep customers/thieves out (a.k.a. locking workers in).

  24. Joedragon says:

    a arbitration contract does not give a wal-mart a free pass to brake labor laws. Also you can’t sign away you rights.

    The works are be forced to work off the clock and some times they are locked in.

  25. CaliCheeseSucks says:

    @howiedi2: It could be their fault, if they had ample opportunities to work other jobs. However, many of the people who work at Walmart are people who can’t find jobs anywhere else and are just trying to put food on the table. This could very well have been a situation where if the workers refused to work off the clock, they would be fired. They are, remember, “at will” employees.

  26. MrWashy says:

    @Jesse: It doesn’t matter if the company was trying to make someone finish a “half-assed job” or not. You don’t make someone work and not pay them. That’s illegal.

    WalMart’s intention here was, I believe, to get work done while keeping payroll costs down. If they were so focused on quality then their products wouldn’t suck as hard as they do.

  27. mzhartz says:

    My husband briefly worked at Sam’s Club, and he got locked in at night. I can understand locking the doors from the outside, but to not let the workers out seems like it should be illegal.

    My husband was working there when his father was in the hospital. I got the call at 1am. I called Sam’s Club every 10 minutes until 5am when someone finally picked up. His dad did later pass away.

  28. Nathan Smart says:

    @howiedi2: Yeah, but when your boss is telling you that you’ll be fired if you don’t work and that’s your only source of income, you tend to do what they say.

  29. Televiper says:

    @Jesse: I’ve never encountered a commercial, government, or public building that requires locking people in order to lock them out. You don’t have to lock people in, to keep people out.

    It is still illegal to short breaks. If the people aren’t doing their jobs there are many other avenues of discipline and eventually dismissal. Those have to be fair too.

  30. azntg says:

    @Bladefist: I assume this line: “While the plaintiffs won’t receive compensatory damages for those violations” means that those guys won’t be getting a penny after all this.

    Very sad thing indeed!

  31. zentex says:

    @Ash78: 2 days? pushaw! I boycott walmart for 2-weeks at a time!

  32. GMFish says:

    “the workers are working while off the clock, isn’t that their fault?”

    I was waiting for someone to take Wal-Mart’s bait.

    Do you really think that all of these employees accidentally worked off the clock? Do you personally know anyone who regularly and consistently works for a multinational corporation for no money? No, I didn’t think so.

    The deal is that these employees are told to work off the clock by their supervisors under threat of being fired. I’m assuming this is all related to avoid paying overtime. When someone hours reaches 40 hours, their supervisor makes them work for free.

    When faced with losing their job and working a payless shift, they take the payless shift.

  33. Bladefist says:

    @azntg: lol. They care so much for these people, who were treated unfairly, but not enough to give them a penny. Where is the money going? So stupid. I am officially infuriated.

    Those people should get all the money, less lawyer expenses.

  34. Shadowfire says:

    @GMFish: You’re right on these counts. That is the manager of XXXXXX Wal-mart store, however, and not “Wal-Mart corporation” that forced it to happen. The corporate office takes the blame legally, as they have to, but it’s not directly their fault, and the managers in these stores have probably been fired.

  35. Televiper says:

    @GMFish: I’ll it’s bet it’s common for employees to be forced to their set-up, and close-up off clock. IE, you’re a cashier that works from 6-10 you have to be there at 5:45 to get your cash drawer to be at the till at 6, and then you don’t start closing out till 10pm. Or someone is late, and someone is forced to fill in without being given overtime.

  36. sisedi says:

    @MrWashy: The victory in this case proves they don’t need a union, filthy organizations as corrupt as some of the companies they supply labor to.

  37. GMFish says:

    Televiper: “I’ll it’s bet it’s common for employees to be forced to their set-up”

    I used to work for K-Mart in the early 80s. That place bent over backward to ensure we got our legally required breaks, lunches, and overtime. But then again, maybe that’s why K-Mart is in the financial dumpster while Wal-Mart is doing so well. It’s probably much easier to make a profit when you’re willing to break the law.

  38. Carencey says:

    Does a judgment like this against Wal-Mart by the state preclude civil suits against Wal-Mart by the employees?

  39. andys2i says:

    Excellent! Finally some justice and one of the reasons I detest shopping at Walmart as detailed here: [www.savingtoinvest.com]

    Ethcically their corporate approach worries me. They are compromising their own employees welfare for the sake of company profits!

  40. MrWashy says:

    @sisedi: Actually a contract with a union would have protected both the employees and WalMart. Contracts are written by both sides and are meant to protect both sides.

    Besides, I doubt you could name 5 unions that are demonstrably corrupt while I can name a plethora (love that word!) of corporations.

  41. Jesse says:

    Just judging by the amount of “violations,” I just have a feeling that a lot of this was probably initiated by a bunch of whiny part-time workers with a sense of entitlement in an advantageous legal climate. I worked retail many years through high school and college. At both places I worked, breaks on some busy days were sporadic or non-existent. It happens all the time. I’m not saying it’s right, but why just go after Wal-Mart when there are probably plenty of other retailers out there doing the same thing.

  42. odhen says:

    I’ll be honest. I actually work at Wal-mart. (I started part-time there in High School, and unless I want to make $6 less per hour starting at minimum wage at some other retail store so I can have a full time job that bends to my college schedule’s whim, I don’t have much choice). Anyway, these stories always confuse me. I guess I live in a “good” wal-mart state or something because in the 6(ew, I know) years I’ve worked there I have never once been denied a break, asked to work off the clock, or forced to do anything unsafe, and I don’t know anyone who has.

    Obviously it’s not like this is being made up, but I just don’t get how the company is apparently run so differently in different areas. Anyway, not trying to defend Wal-Mart(and I’d be the last to do so in most any situation, I have no loyalty to the company despite my ridiculous amount of time there), but these stories always make me wonder what makes one company seemingly run so differently in different areas.

  43. whydidnt says:

    This story was on the front page of the Minneapolis StarTribune today. One of the lead plaintiff’s worked at the store’s grill and was not allowed to take required breaks. She indicates it was so bad she soiled herself on more than one occasion. I can’t imagine being in a situation so bad that you felt your only option was to pee your pants. I’m sure many of use would simply have left to use the facilities and dealt with the consequences (I know I would have). However, we don’t know her personal situation and how badly she needed the job. If it was me, I’d say NO job was worth that embarrassment, though.

    The article goes on to indicate that an internal audit had reported many of these violations to Sr. Management, but apparently had been ignored. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t just a few renegade managers that were doing this, but rather part of the accepted culture at Wal-Mart.

    Finally the article indicates that it’s unlikely Minnesotans will change their shopping habits and stop shopping at Wal-Mart despite stories like this. That’s the scariest thing of the whole article IMO. It seems many want to bitch about poor service, poor treatment of workers, etc, but when it’s time to lay down their hard earned dollars, saving a few cents is more important than sticking to their principals. As long as large percentages of the population continue to base every decision on whatever is cheapest we will continue to receive crappy service. Wal-Mart is no different than the airlines in this regard.

  44. darksunfox says:

    I’m a union worker and can count on one hand the number of lunch breaks I got last month. Oh, and I work 50 hour weeks and get paid for 40 most weeks. Mostly my choice or my negligence, but I don’t blame my employer at all. So don’t pretend unionizing is the only answer – actually, it would help Walmart in cases like this. “What, you’ve got a union in place and you still aren’t taking breaks and you’re still willfully working through breaks/off the clock? Go talk to your union rep and we can start an arbitration process which will tell you to stop doing that.” [/lawsuit]

    Should I sue my employer because nobody held my hand and reminded me what time lunch was, and I better go at that certain time or I’m not going to get it, and oops! I never went for my scheduled break but now it’s an hour til my shift is up, can I take my hour long break now while we’re closing? What do you mean I can’t – you’re denying me a break! Please. I managed for a year in a very similar situation as a retail manager supervising 17 people making minimum wage on an hourly floating hour basis and this is the type of stuff that happened on a daily basis. I wasn’t a mean heartless corporation so I didn’t get class-action sued. I never *denied* anyone a break, but if they didn’t take their scheduled break and didn’t inform me that there needed to be a change so I could adjust coverage, I didn’t feel bad for them if they didn’t get a break. I especially didn’t feel bad if they felt like skipping a lunch break should mean they got to skip closing by playing the “So, you’re going to deny me a break” card.

    4 breaks per year per employee? I’m not going to shed a tear.

  45. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy: They won’t stop until they lose more money in lawsuits than they save in cheating.

  46. MrWashy says:

    @darksunfox: You made a choice to not take your breaks. If you don’t stand up for yourself when you’re in a position to do so then by all means enjoy surrendering them. You are, as we say, a company man.

    If your union doesn’t follow the law or your own contract then it’s weak. I do hate the complains of “my union didn’t do this” or “my union doesn’t stand up for me”. Your union is you; don’t like what it’s doing then get involved.

  47. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @sleze69: $3.25/violation doesn’t sound like a lot.

    @valarmorghulis: yeah, but with the punitive that could go up to $1000/incident. That ain’t chump-change.

    Courts typically consider any punitive damage award more than a single order of magnitude greater than the actual dmage award to be unreasonable. The recent Supreme Court decision in the Exxon Valdez case doesn’t bode well for an award of even $10 per incident in this case.

  48. Myrddraal says:

    @Bladefist: This isn’t a class action lawsuit. This is a state taking a company to court for breaking the law.

    The employee’s should also bring a class action suite against Walmart and with this ruling supporting they should be able to win pretty quickly.

  49. The_IT_Crone says:

    Thing is, I don’t think this is necessarily a “Wal-Mart” thing. It sounds a lot like my $8/hr retail job at Apple, including the required off-the-clock computer-based training and the break situation. I’m sure it’s more of a “crappy manager” thing, which you can get anywhere if you hire bad management.

    Apple has a computer-based employee-training program that they are required to do, but that they are not allowed to do on the clock (at least in the store I worked in). If you completed a certain number of training points, you got a pin that commemorated that. Incidently, my manager kept my pin for herself. (Point: bad management).

    The break situation was often fairly humourous (after the fact); they lived by it as if it were the law. A particular example was if your name wasn’t on the scheduled break list (like if you were working but hadn’t been scheduled), you didn’t get a break.

    I could give horror stories from other jobs, but I picked one that most people think is a loving, trendy job.

    My point is that while I still despise Wal-Mart, I can’t help but wonder if this ruling wouldn’t have happened if the defendant had been a different company.

  50. DH405 says:

    @celticgina: The obligatory “Obligatory X Post!” posts stopped being funny some time ago.

  51. rellog says:

    @howiedi2: When your job is at risk for not doing what is told, and you have little other options, then no it ISN’T the workers’ faults… As for other countries labor issues…. who do you think is fueling that situation? We’re at fault for not enforcing protection of workers where we get products from. And yes, as a moral society WE are responsible for the rest of the world…

  52. geoffhazel says:

    I know the Wal-Mart in Aberdeen, WA is guilty of making (or letting) people work off the clock. We were getting paint one night and the clerk helping us kept calling up to the front to get someone else back there because her shift had ended 15 min ago. She was still working. I told her “well, thanks for helping us out, at least you get overtime” and she said “well, no I don’t, they don’t like us to clock any overtime” — so she was working but not getting paid for it, and apparently the mgmt knew all about it but discouraged people from getting paid for their work.

    I could see a policy where they didn’t want people to work unapproved overtime, but what I don’t understand is why people would continue to work overtime if they knew they weren’t going to get paid.

    Myself, if I knew I wasn’t getting paid after 8:00 PM, I’d be clocking out on the dot. Nobody to help in paint? I guess that’s the management’s problem.

    The only trick would be to be sure to not get started doing something at 7:55 PM that would last longer than 5 minutes.

  53. rellog says:

    @The_IT_Crone:If you are an hourly employee, then Apple is breaking the law in requiring that training off the clock. If it were me, I would leave a anonymous note citing the infraction for the management. If that doesn’t work, I would call my state’s labor division. I have on more than one occasion cited labor laws when companies I worked for have tried to enforce illegal working conditions (for example, one place said we had to stay on premises while on an UNpaid lunch- they can’t require that and I told them such and they acquiesced.) Of course I was not looking at being evicted or losing needed insurance at the time. But I still have no problem sticking up for myself, I can also see how others may not have that luxury.

  54. rellog says:

    @odhen: I think it has to do with regional management. I do think you’ve lucked out, since it seems that this is extremely wide spread in occurrence. Just hope you don’t get one of those lousy regional managers in your area, because they’ll start to replace the good managers with bad ones and you’ll be SOL…

  55. BugNet says:

    MrWashy and others:

    The Wal-Marts in China are the only ones that have an employees’ union. It was a condition set by the PRC government in order to do business there.

    It is almost worth a trip over there just to see what they sell. It’s very, very different than here.

    IIRC, Hillary Clinton used to be on Wal-Mart’s board of directors. Make of that what you will.

  56. eekfuh says:


  57. Orv says:

    @valarmorghulis: Unlikely. The Supreme Court just ruled in the Exxon Valdez case that punitive damages cannot exceed actual economic damages.

  58. vdragonmpc says:

    The saddest thing is so many people hate where they work so much. I know it used to look good on reviews and promotion lists when you do a bit more than “just enough to get by”. Companies used to reward employees. Now its expected and if you dont do that extra mile you might lose your job or position.

    I know many professional jobs I have worked have expected a lot of unpaid overtime. Walmart seems like a scapegoat though as many other workers dont get paid for the extra time they put in.

    I guess only pharmacists get to clock out and go home whether or not they are working.

  59. Bladefist says:

    @Myrddraal: I know. I just get emotional about this stuff.

  60. Myrddraal says:

    It isn’t just min wage jobs either. While I was working at Wells Fargo they were brought to trial in a class action suit over not allowing breaks/lunches and not paying overtime or comping employee’s. Needless to say Wells Fargo lost the case and all of the employee’s who didn’t opt out of the suit got a few thousand dollars plus a percentage of back pay based on hours logged. After the suit the enforcement of breaks and lunches was great.

    Lawsuits are the weapon of the people in this day and age. I am not in support of frivolous suits but if a company is breaking the law then they should be fined and fined repeatedly until they change their policies. The amount might not be high enough to really hurt Walmart but if they continue to do this then there will be more and more lawsuits until they do.

  61. nequam says:

    @azntg& @TinyBug& @Myrddraal& @Orv:

    Prepare to be schooled, ya’ll!

    (1) This WAS a class-action lawsuit by the employees

    (2) The part that says the plaintiffs “will not receive compensation for these violations,” refers to certain violations only. It does not mean they won’t receive compensation for the other violations

    (3) The $1000 per violation is a civil penalty provided by statute. This is different than punitive damages (although those might also be available), so the comments about the Exxon Valdez case are irrelevant.

    You’re welcome for this valuable service. Or, in other words RTFA!

  62. incognit000 says:

    Too little, too late, and it will invariably be overturned or thrown out by a judge who either loves Walmart or hates poor people or both.

  63. LucyInTheSky says:

    c’mon guys. i vote for a face off in worst company between comcast and walmart. may the worst company… win?

  64. katylostherart says:

    now they need to make fast food companies do the same. i’m looking at you jack in the box.

  65. thelushie says:

    @Jesse: That is what it was like in my last two jobs. Breaks sometimes didn’t happen. We would get a lunch, but it was easy to falsify the record and take a few hours. Managers did it all the time. When are people going to start going after other companies for their terrible working conditions such as McDonalds (I never worked there but I know some in college who did). Oh wait…I forgot it would not be as kewl.

    @odhen: I think what it is is different store managers. Just like in every industry and company on the planet, there are bad managers. What most people do is then generalize the actions of a few to all. Of course, that is ridiculous and unintellectual but that is apparently not important to many.

  66. Bakkster_Man says:

    @nequam: Finally, someone who understands the difference between civil penalties and criminal penalties. And it’s someone who actually read the article.

    I’m impressed.

  67. WraithSama says:

    @sisedi: Not all unions are corrupt and you’re making a very broad conjecture. My job is unionized and the union and company have struck a very fair balance. The union ensures we have good pay, great benefits, and are treated fairly and equally by the employer, but the union will NOT protect you from disciplinary action if you are a terrible worker, have a bad attitude and are generally disrespectful to co-workers and supervisors, or have poor attendance.

    @darksunfox: At my unionized job, our union mandates that all employees MUST take their scheduled breaks and lunches. You can actually get in trouble and even receive disciplinary action if you’re caught intentionally working off the clock. I think Wal-Mart employees would benefit from this kind of policy.

    @Myrddraal: Note how the article points out, in the very first sentence, that it IS a class-action lawsuit.

  68. i sort of want to get a job at wal mart just so i can file a suit like this

  69. murphy1701 says:

    I work at Walmart:

    What I don’t understand is that the registers won’t let you sign on unless you are clocked in.. thus getting paid. The training computers are the same.

    When it comes to working off the clock… I have only been asked to do this by customers and not management and it is usually asking me where something is.

  70. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Jesse: Sorry to contradict your preconceptions about Minnesota and liberals, but King was a Republican appointee.

    Does that change your opinion of the ruling at all? Likewise, this is the third wage & hour class action suit Wal-Mart has lost. The others were in California and Pennsylvania. So it’s not like the MN ruling was a bolt from the blue.

  71. aka Bitter says:

    @GMFish: I worked for a large fast food restaurant in the 90’s as a hourly manager on the closing shift and couldn’t count the number of hours I worked for free.
    i.e. Coming in early to set up my shift, staying late so my employees could go home(lets schedule everyone to allow 1 hour for closing and not allow OT!) or trying to take my required meal break while running the drive-thru window and cash register. I guess I should blame myself for being young, naive and stupid but I didn’t know any better at the time and the management was totally aware of what was going on. It’s likely the workers at Wal-Mart were in the same situation and I truly hope that their lot improves.

  72. Counterpoint says:

    Great, so a large sum of money gets transferred from a corrupt company to scummy lawyers, while the people who got walked on will get little or nothing.

  73. Anonymous says:

    THIS will wipe the smile off the face of that little #$!$!!! thing that’s supposedly rolling back prices while it hides the grocery shrink ray behind its back.

  74. u1itn0w2day says:

    I blame alot of this on the education system and the lack of knowledge about history.And at the beginging of a new melenium you have management or managers who actually have the gaul to pull stunts like this.I don’t know wether they’re just ignorant of the law,lack morality and or conscience.And the fact that it has happend in so many different locations tells me corporate knows something.

    And these are just the cases that were reported from around the turn of mellenium.I knew someone who worked for Walmart for years and they said after Sam Walton died and the family took over it went to pot.

  75. RvLeshrac says:


    It is N-E-V-E-R the fault of “individual managers,” no matter what they WANT you to believe. Corporate gives the local store management their marching orders.

    Wal-Mart is not a franchise; Wal-mart management is not allowed to make independent decisions.

    It should be noted that this isn’t just “one Wal-mart store,” this is a chain-wide issue.

  76. RvLeshrac says:


    On the subject of being asked to work off the clock by customers… yes. I wish people would stop doing this. When I tell you that I’m taking a break/lunch/whatever from my job – be it McDonalds’ cashier or internal helpdesk at Rockwell – you need to take that as a hint that I’m not working, not on the clock, not being paid.

    I might call someone else to deal with your issue, but I’m suddenly and rapidly going to lose all interest in helping you if you roll your eyes and sigh at me. I don’t screw with your breaks, so don’t screw with mine.

  77. deadspork says:

    More often than not what probably happens in these situations is that people aren’t directly ASKED to work off-the-clock, or get unpaid overtime. It probably runs something like this;

    “Manager, my shift was up 5 minutes ago.”
    “Yes… Well, employeeX is supposed to replace you, and she hasn’t come in yet. She called and said she’d be in in about half an hour” (of course this NEVER happens, employeeX is always much later than that).

    Employee thinks, well, if I hang on for half an hour, I can maybe score points with management. Plus, if I leave now and I make the job more difficult for my co-workers, they won’t trade shifts with me when I need it. If I make management mad, they’ll deny me requested days off and promotions when they become available.

    A word doesn’t even really need to be said, the employee feels pressured by things outside of their control. And believe me, in all the retail and food places I’ve worked at, a person willing to quietly bear the brunt of this crap is more likely to get promoted (and yes, more likely to be taken advantage of). It might be a crap job, but would you rather stay at the bottom of a crap job forever, or move up?

    I’m not saying it’s ok and I’m certainly not trying to justify it, but I can understand it. Kudos to these people that spoke up and started this suit.

  78. deadspork says:

    @RvLeshrac: When people would ask me to work and I was not on the clock, I would politely explain that I was on a break. When they pressed me (be it a customer OR management), I would explain that it was illegal, and I was not willing to violate laws. That was usually the end of it!

  79. RvLeshrac says:


    Good idea in theory… I guess it really depends on the intelligence of the person you’re speaking with.

    When I try to politely explain that I’m at lunch or off the clock, I almost inevitably get the “Well, you just don’t want to help me *storms off*.” Seems like people get more and more impatient as time goes on, they rarely give me a chance to offer to find someone to help them anymore.