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Judge: Wal-Mart violated MN labor laws, must pay $6.5M

Author / Coordinator: Carissa Wyant
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal
June 2009

A Dakota County judge has found Wal-Mart Stores Inc. guilty of violating Minnesota’s labor laws.
District Judge Robert King Jr. ruled after a nonjury trial that Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) owes employees $6.5 million, and faces up to an additional $2 billion in damages.
The suit, filed on behalf of about 56,000 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees, alleged that Wal-Mart managers forced hourly workers to work off-the-clock during training and denied full rest or meal breaks, in order to keep labor costs down. The suit was given class action status in 2003.
Wal-Mart officials said in an interview with the Business Journal that its policies are to pay employees properly and offer rest and meal breaks. It added that it ‘respectfully disagrees" with the ruling, and is considering filing an appeal.
The Minneapolis attorneys who led the case against Wal-Mart praised the ruling in a statement. "We are very pleased that Judge King found that Wal-Mart not only breached its own contract with its hourly workers, but repeatedly and willfully violated numerous Minnesota wage and hour statutes," said Justin Perl of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand and William Sieben of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben.
As a result of the ruling, Wal-Mart will face a second trial. Minnesota labor law allows a fine of up to $1,000 per violation of wage and hour rules. In another trial slated for October, a jury will decide how much the company will pay in violations fees, and will also consider punitive damages.

cwyant@bizjournals.com | (612) 288-2108
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

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