Attorneys seek injuncton to compel Wal-Mart to change employee
By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service
June 26, 2006
OAKLAND (BCN) - Attorneys for plaintiffs who won a $172
million jury verdict against Wal-Mart for not providing paid meal
and rest breaks for its California employees are back in court
today seeking an injunction that would force the retail giant
to change its practices.
San Francisco attorney Fred Furth represents 116,000 current
and former hourly workers at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in
California who won their trial last Dec. 22 on their claim that
Wal Mart violated their rights under state labor laws by denying
them their meal and rest breaks and by secretly deleting hours
worked from their paychecks.
Following a three-month trial and two-and-a-half days of deliberations,
an Alameda County Superior Court jury awarded the plaintiffs $57.3
million in compensatory damages and $115 million in punitive damages.
The lawsuit was filed in February 2001 and took more than four
years to go to trial.
Furth and Wal-Mart attorneys are back before Judge Ronald Sabraw
today for a non-jury hearing that's expected to take at least
a week. Furth wants Sabraw to issue an injunction ordering Wal-Mart
to have all its employees punch in and punch out for their paid
Following the jury verdict, Wal-Mart attorney Neal Manne said
the company admits that it initially violated California law but
he said the company has been in compliance with the law since
the end of 2003.
In a recent court brief, Manne said "the alleged need to
impose the extraordinary remedy of a meal period injunction is
moot" because Wal-Mart employees have been able to take their
breaks more than 99 percent of the time since mid-2003.
Manne said Sabraw himself has found that there is no evidence
that Wal-Mart had an express policy of discouraging rest breaks.
Manne said wage costs as a percentage of sales at Wal-Mart have
increased and "turnover is low and associate morale is high,
results that could not have occurred in a fictional world of uniform
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