MINNEAPOLIS - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Tuesday it will pay more than $52 million to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged the mega-retailer cut its workers' break times and failed to prevent employees from working off the clock.

Additionally, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has agreed to maintain electronic systems, surveys and notices to stay compliant Minnesota labor laws, a statement said.

An undisclosed part of the settlement will go to the state of Minnesota. The settlement must still be approved by the trial court. A hearing is set for Jan. 14.

The lawsuit, filed in 2002, includes about 100,000 current and former hourly workers who were employed at Wal-Mart Stores and Sam's Club stores in Minnesota from Sept. 11, 1998, through Nov. 14, 2008.

Dakota County Judge Robert King Jr. ruled in July against Wal-Mart,
saying Wal-Mart violated state labor laws 2 million times by cutting worker break times and by not stopping managers from having employees work off the clock.

The court was set to determine punitive damages in the case next month. Wal-Mart faced a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation.

Wal-Mart has faced similar lawsuits in other 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.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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