While each day dozens of California truckers transport Wal-Mart products through the inland region—last week, a northern California court issued a ruling certain to impact their future and the future of other California truckers who drive for the company.
A federal jury has awarded California truckers $54 million dollars for Wal-Mart’s intentional failure to pay at least minimum wage for several different job duties.
Among the duties in question were such activities as inspecting and washing the truckers’ vehicles. The lawsuit also claimed Wal-Mart had failed to properly pay drivers for layovers. While Wal-Mart on the other hand, argued that the truckers were paid for activities that included maintenance tasks and that they were not working during layovers. The federal jury disagreed.
Over 800 drivers who worked for Wal- Mart between October 2005 and October 2015 participated in the suit that sought $72 million in damages—most of the damages claimed were for unpaid layovers during which Wal-Mart required drivers to stay with their trucks. Wal- Mart drivers are not paid an hourly rate; instead, their salary is based on mileage and specified activities.
When the verdict in the case was rendered, attorneys who represented the truck drivers expressed their belief that additional damages and penalties could result in the retail giant owing drivers more than $150 million dollars. To date, the judge has yet to decide regarding the actual amount of civil damages to be awarded in this case.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is America’s largest private employer. Over the years it has faced an abundance of criticism for the rate of pay it provided employees; its lack of benefits; and the overall treatment of its employees. Last year the company gave raises to nearly a half-million workers in the United States as part of what it identified as an investment aimed at giving its workers greater opportunities to advance; in addition to providing them with more consistent work schedules.