Thursday, April 01, 2010
Class action lawsuits occur when a number of people have the same collective complaint against another entity or entities. Reasons for filing class action lawsuits include products that harm or lead to the harm of consumers, or businesses that allow employees to violate standards set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Another reason that a class action lawsuit may be filed against a company or organization is a dispute over wages and hours worked.
In July 2008, retail giant Wal-Mart was forced to pay over $6 million in damages to nearly 60,000 Minnesota employees for violating wage laws. It was neither the first nor the last time Wal-Mart has faced class action for violating wage and hourly labor laws, as the corporation has been named in over 60 class action lawsuits.
Nancy Braun, Pamela Reinert, Cindy Severson and Debbie Simonson were just some of the plaintiffs in the Minnesota case against Wal-Mart. Each of the four women alleges that they were denied meal breaks. The four also allege that they were forced to work “off the clock,” or for time that wouldn’t be officially recorded and for which they wouldn’t be paid.
Debbie Simonson was employed by Wal-Mart in Brooklyn Park, MN. She was often instructed after clocking out at the end of her shift to collect carts from the parking lot or to pass out advertisements to customers. She was also often overlooked for meal and rest breaks. She complained to her supervisors on many occasions, yet they refused to take action. Each of the women were asked to skip meal breaks in order to meet the immediate needs of the store, and on other occasions asked to perform their work duties off the clock in order to keep labor costs at or below the store’s target labor budget. Cindy Severson claims she was forced to work over eight hours off the clock after going to her work location to shop as a customer.
These stories are two of the almost 60,000 tales of wage and labor claims that allege violations of Wal-Mart’s employment policy, as well as state and federal laws. Without the strength of these four women, 60,000 workers might still be without voices today.