Walmart Would Really Rather Not Pay That $151M That Court Says It Owes Employees

Just because we love so much, here's a reminder that it exists.

Just because we love so much, here’s a reminder that it exists.

For more than a decade, Walmart has been fighting to avoid paying $151 million in damages to more than 187,000 current and former employees in Pennsylvania for regularly compelling them to work without proper compensation. And even though the state’s highest court recently affirmed that penalty, the retailer isn’t ready to hand over that money just yet.

This case actually dates back to a class action filed in 2002, alleging that Walmart systematically and deliberately forced employees to work off the clock, through mandated break times, or through meal breaks.

In its appeal of the 2006 jury verdict, Walmart claimed the case had been a “trial by formula,” which means that the plaintiffs didn’t present comprehensive data showing that each of the class members had been affected in the same way, but instead relied on the testimony and analysis of expert statisticians who reviewed Walmart time sheets and determined the extent to which workers were harmed.

It’s effectively the same approach that Walmart used to break up the infamous Wal-Mart v. Dukes case involving allegation of systemic sexual discrimination. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an appeals court ruling and determined that the class of plaintiffs in the Dukes case should not have been certified in the first place.

Speaking to the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, PA, a rep for Walmart implied that even though this “trial by formula” contention failed to win over the Pennsylvania Supremes, the company will likely trot out this argument if it gets the chance to do so before SCOTUS.

“We believe these claims should not be bumped together in a class action lawsuit,” the rep explained. “We’ve continually said that if someone believes someone was not allowed to take breaks, they should have those claims reviewed on an individual basis.”

Yes, because a Walmart employee who makes slightly above the minimum wage has enough money in their bank account to sue the nation’s largest retailer. Or maybe a lawyer will take the case so they can score 30% of that huge $800 award a single employee might receive if victorious.

The rep for Walmart also noted that some of these claims are more than a decade old. That tends to happen when a lawsuit lingers unresolved for 13 years.

Walmart is nothing if not tenacious about spending gobs of money on lawyers to avoid paying penalties. After all, this is the company that spent more than $2 million and nearly seven years trying to avoid paying a $7,000 OSHA fine for the 2008 Black Friday trampling death of an employee at a Long Island store.

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