Retailer suit settled: $85 million

Wal-Mart has agreed, in a class-action suit settlement, to pay out as much as $85 million to employees across the country who filed suit against the company for unfair labor practices.

U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Pro approved the settlement Friday after extensive negotiations by both sides. The suit was filed by employees in 28 states and Puerto Rico, including Connecticut.

State residents who were employed by Walmart between December 6, 2000 and February 27, 2009 are eligible to file for settlement funds.

In the suit, employees alleged that they were not allowed full, uninterrupted rest breaks and meal periods and were not paid for all the time they worked because they were forced to work “off the clock” or because of “time shaving” in which employees would be shorted a minute or two from their shifts on an ongoing basis.

Walmart has denied the allegations but as part of the settlement, the company has agreed “for a three-year period…to implement or continue to utilize…programs and procedures to ensure that employees receive full, uninterrupted breaks and payment for all time worked.”

Employees covered under the settlement have the option of submitting either a short or a long claim form. Claimants electing to use the short form will receive a standard amount estimated to range between $25 and $150 based upon their length of service.

Employees electing to use the long form may instead recover an estimated amount between $50 and $300, depending on their length of service and number of incidents claimed. Employees who have spent more than four years with the company may be entitled to recover as much as $1,000. The last day for past or current Connecticut Wal-Mart employees to submit a request for a cash payment is Nov. 9, 2009.

The lawsuit is the largest wage and hour case in American history.

Robert Bonsignore, the employees’ national Lead Counsel, hailed the decision.

“Today is a good day for all concerned. The focus however is singular. Today’s hearing is all about the employees,” Bonsignore said in a statement. “The economic value is extremely large and there is a real ongoing value provided by the injunctive relief.”

All former and current employees are urged to submit a claim. Claim forms are available by calling 1- 800-677- 5163 or by visiting the claim online at

Michelle Bradford, senior manager in Corporate Communications for Walmart, said Friday that the company would have no further comment on the settlement beyond a statement issued in December.

At that time, the company said “each of the settlements is subject to approval by the trial court, and the total amount to be paid will depend on the amount of claims that are submitted by class members.”

As a result of the settlement, the company will record an after-tax charge to continuing operations in its fiscal fourth quarter of about $250 million, or about $0.06 on earnings per share.

“Resolving this litigation is in the best interest of our company, our shareholders and our associates,” Tom Mars, executive vice president and general counsel to Wal-Mart, said. “Many of these lawsuits were filed years ago and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today.”

David Hutter can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].


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