On Wednesday, a federal jury came to the decision that Wal-Mart purposely avoided paying the state minimum wage to hundreds of California truck drivers. Seven jurors awarded $54 million to the truck drivers for damages associated with them not being paid the minimum wage. Wal-Mart also faces additional penalty charges for breaking California law. A judge still has to determine how much these penalties are going to be.
The controversy of this whole case came from the layovers that these truck drivers had in between their driving time. During their stops, the truck drivers performed additional work activities like inspecting their trucks and washing them. The drivers claimed in the lawsuit that they should have gotten paid at least the minimum wage for the time they spent performing these extra activities. Wal-Mart argued these activities are part of their regular truck driving job and they shouldn’t have to pay the drivers extra money during their layovers to perform these tasks. Apparently, the jury thought the truck drivers had the better argument because they won.
Over 800 drivers were represented by attorneys during this civil trial. The drivers were employed for the company anywhere between October of 2005 and October of 2015. They were asking for $72 million due to the damages they endured from not getting paid for layovers. Now with the penalties added to the $54 million they were awarded, Wal-Mart could end up paying over $100 million because of this verdict.
Wal-Mart is known for being the United States’ top private employer. However, they’ve constantly been criticized for how poorly they treat their employees in terms of low wages and fairness in the workplace. Truck drivers for Wal-Mart are not typically paid by the hour, but rather by how many miles they’ve driven on the clock.