$40M Returned to Hourly-Paid Wal-Mart Employees in State’s Largest Wage and Hour Settlement

Current and former Massachusetts Wal-Mart employees will receive $40 million in unpaid wages from the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. This class-action wage and hour lawsuit is the largest in the history of the Bay State.

The cause of the wage lawsuit, which appears pervasive in the company by the numerous wage and hour lawsuits settled last year in December (read the Tennessee Law Blog’s coverage of last year’s Wal-Mart wage settlement) was the company’s denial of rest and meal breaks, refusal to pay overtime, and the manipulation of time cards to lower employees’ pay.

As many as 87,500 employees will receive a payment of between $400 and $2,500, the average check being for $734. Any Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club employee paid wages between working in the period between August 1995 and December 2009 is entitled to payment.

Earlier in this year, Wal-Mart settled another Massachusetts wage violation lawsuit for $3 million for violating the state’s meal break policies. The MA attorney general pursued the lawsuit after Wal-Mart workers reported being denied meal breaks or having meal breaks cut short.

This settlement dwarfs those of similar settled class actions against Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has denied all allegations of improper pay policies, though the retailer has paid $640 million to settle 63 federal and state class-action wage-and-hour lawsuits. The Massachusetts agreement brings the total wage-and-hour lawsuit settlements to nearly $900 million.

Prior to this settlement, Massachusetts’ largest wage-and-hour settlement was $14.5 million in 2008 in a tip lawsuit against Canyon Ranch whose Lenox spa was accused of not passing along gratuities to workers.

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