Judge approves Wal-Mart class action settlement with workers

Kathy Woods Nov. 5, 2009, 1:34pm

LAS VEGAS (Legal Newsline)-A final settlement in a major class action against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. received final approval this week in federal district court in Las Vegas.

The wronged workers in the case can expect to receive anywhere from $25 to $300, depending on their length of service and number of incidents claimed, while lawyers for the workers will receive one-third of the settlement -- up to $28 million.

"The court finds that class counsel has achieved an exceptionally favorable result for the members of the settlement classes by diligently pursuing this complex litigation for years despite the substantial risk of no recovery." U.S. District Court Judge Philip Pro wrote in his 16-page ruling.

The last day for past or current Wal-Mart employees to submit a request for a payment under the settlement is Nov. 9.

Last December, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer agreed to pay as much as $640 million to resolve 63 class action lawsuits involving wage and hour violations across the nation.

Although Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, agreed to the settlement last December each state had to approve of the settlement in a trial court.

Wal-Mart faced similar lawsuits in several states.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, workers won a $78.5 million judgment in 2006 for working off the clock and through their breaks. In California, a $172 million verdict was entered in 2005 against the company for denying workers their lunch breaks.

In 2002, a federal jury found the company forced Oregon employees to work unpaid overtime between 1994 and 1999.

Wal-Mart has said that these complaints were filed years ago and are not representative of how the company now operates.

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