Walmart violated California’s minimum wage by paying their truck drivers by the mile and not compensating them for mandatory activites, according to a recent court ruling. The company is also being required to provide the truckers with back pay.
On May 28, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston sided with the 720 plaintiffs, made up of past and current truck drivers of the company, by ruling that Walmart broke California state law by not compensating their drivers for maintaining their vehicles, cleaning the trucks, fueling the trucks, filling out paperwork, and waiting in line, according to CBS Sacramento. The company will be forced to compensate the truckers with back pay.
Butch Wagner, the attorney representing the drivers, hailed the court’s decision to give back to the workers.
“These guys are owed the money, so the sooner they get paid, the better,” Wagner commented.
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Walmart representatives fired back, saying that their truck drivers are some of the most highest paid in the country, with some making $100,000 or more a year. The company’s spokesman, Randy Hargrove, insisted that the company would continue to fight the court’s ruling.
Walmart is one of the nation’s most profitable corporations, raking in billions of dollars each year. The company also employs the largest amount of workers in the private sector, but has come under fire for its low wages and lack of organization in recent years.
However, officials within the company gave a raise to nearly 500,000 employees this year, which the company said was the beginning of a long-term strategy to allow for more growth and advancement among the company’s employees, the Associated Press reported.
Attorneys for Walmart disagreed with the reasoning for the court’s decision.
“Nothing in the Labor Code requires a separate ‘pay code’ for each act that goes into cleaning the house,” the lawyers representing Walmart wrote in court papers. “Does the Labor Code require drivers to be separately paid for putting a key in the ignition or while sitting at a stop light?”
Walmart truck drivers are paid by how many miles they have logged driving and other specific activities, not a minimum wage that a cashier likely starts off making on their first day of work.
Despite the victory in late May, the plaintiffs will have to wait months for the next phase of the case to proceed. A jury will oversee the case beginning in April 2016 in order to determine how much money Walmart will have to pay back to the drivers. Wagner believes that with late fees and penalties, Walmart may be paying close to $150 million after the case is over.