July 22, 2009 in City

Wal-Mart settles lawsuit by Wash. workers for $35M

Associated Press
 

SEATTLE — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay up to $35 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of 88,000 workers at Washington state stores who were forced to skip meals and rest breaks or work off the clock.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer and lawyers for the workers jointly announced Wednesday that a King County Superior Court judge has given final approval to the deal.

“This lawsuit was filed years ago and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore said in a news release. “Our policy is to pay associates for every hour worked and to make rest and meal breaks available.”

Wal-Mart announced in December it would pay as much as $640 million to settle 63 lawsuits across the country over wage and hour violations. Each settlement had to be approved by courts. Only cases in California and Pennsylvania went to trial, and those verdicts are on appeal, said Beth Terrell, a Seattle lawyer for the Washington plaintiffs.

In Washington, the plaintiffs’ lawyers will receive $10.5 million to cover eight years of legal fees. Three workers who brought the lawsuit will receive $10,000 each, and other workers will get between $50 and $950, depending on how long they worked for Wal-Mart and how much detail they can provide about the violations they suffered.

The class members must file their claims by Aug. 19.

The settlement also requires Wal-Mart to continue steps it has taken to prevent wage and hour violations at its 50 stores and Sam’s Clubs in Washington, Terrell said.

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