ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. – December 22, 2005 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. issued the following statement in response to today’s jury verdict in a class action suit regarding meal breaks during the work day:
We appreciate the jury’s service, but disagree with its conclusion and will appeal.
This case involved a meal-period statute that is unique to California. It has no bearing on any other state.
Wal-Mart has acknowledged it had compliance issues when the statute became effective in 2001. The problems were also experienced by other employers in the State of California. Wal-Mart has since taken steps to ensure all associate receive their meal periods, including adopting new technology that sends alerts to cashiers when it is time for their meal breaks. The system will automatically shut down registers if the cashier does not respond.
During the trial, a California court of appeals made a ruling in another case (Murphy v. Kenneth Cole) that directly supports Wal-Marts position that the meal-period premiums in question are penalties, rather than wages. This means that punitive damages cannot be recovered in this case. In short, California law prohibits penalties on top of penalties.
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