California Walmart Employees Awarded $6 Million

california walmartWhen the company did not properly address employee concerns in a California Walmart, workers took matters to the courts for a resolution. It turns out to have been an excellent strategy, with California courts once again maintaining the rights and dignity of the state’s workforce.  If you find yourself working for an unscrupulous employer who fails to provide proper compensation, a local labor and employment attorney may be able to help. 

Walmart’s Violations

In a class action suit filed on behalf of about 5,000 workers in a Chino, California Walmart, employees received a big win when the court found the company had, indeed, violated the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and/or California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) in several ways.  Walmart was found to have neglected to compensate employees fairly:

  • Meal and rest periods were not provided;
  • Employees were not compensated for all hours worked;
  • Overtime pay was denied to employees;
  • Final paychecks were not forthcoming;
  • Wage pay stubs did not contain complete and correct itemization.

Legal Expectations

California’s Unfair Competition Law is designed to provide relief for unfair business practices. This may relate to practices that are fraudulent, that violate statutes, or that otherwise are unfair to employees.  Under the UCL, plaintiffs may be reimbursed monies owed and businesses may be forced to change their practices.    

The Private Attorneys General Act gives employees the power to sue for civil damages related to employer violations of the labor code. 

The law is clear regarding meal breaks for employees who work five hours or more:  

  • Employers are required to provide a 30-minute break that is unencumbered by workplace duties;
  • The meal break must be uninterrupted time over which the employer has no control;
  • Employees may not be impeded or discouraged from taking these breaks.

For employees who work over 10 hours in a single shift, a second break must be provided, as well.

Details of the California Walmart Case

In the California Walmart scenario, the court found that employees were discouraged from taking their guaranteed breaks by an onerous security check they were required to undergo when leaving the building. Now, while it is not incumbent upon an employer to ensure that employees perform work during their breaks, when a lengthy security check significantly diminishes the amount of time allowed for a break, the company can be found in violation of the law. In the case of Walmart, that is precisely what occurred, and a jury believed employees who claimed it was an impediment to taking lunch breaks. [Read more…]

Paid Sick Leave, Breaks and Employer Responsibility

Paid Sick LeaveEmployees of all stripes have certain rights with regard to breaks and paid sick leave. When employers fail to provide the required breaks and/or leave, a knowledgeable employment attorney can help ensure you enjoy the benefits required by law.

Breaks During the Work Day

California labor law requires employers to provide an employee a meal period or rest period. A 2012 California Supreme Court ruling provided specificity to that law, ruling that employers are required to “…relieve employees of all duty, relinquish control over their activities, and permit them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break.”

The case involved Brinker Restaurant Corporation, Brinker International, Inc, and Brinker International Payroll Company, L.P. The claim was that Brinker either failed to provide breaks, or required employees to take “early lunching” followed by six to eight hours of shift work with no breaks. It resulted in Brinker paying out a $10 million settlement to employees who claimed to have suffered between 1999 and 2001.

While the court did require a work-free break be provided, it did not require employers to ensure that no work occurred during the break. In other words, if employees chose to work during a break it was not the employer’s responsibility to clamp down on that work.

Breaks must, however, allow for employees to leave the premises. Otherwise, the law does not consider it a legitimate break. The law provides for one hour’s pay at an employee’s regular wage for every missed off-duty break.

On the other hand, a voluntary agreement may be signed for on-duty meal breaks, provided the breaks are paid and the type of the work being done fits with criteria set out by the law. An employee may revoke this agreement at any time.

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

In 2014, lawmakers in California determined that many California workers had inadequate paid sick leave. Hence, legislation was enacted to provide workers with paid time off to deal with the health care needs of themselves and their families. The rationale was that when workers had paid time off when ill, they would recover more quickly and would be less likely to spread illness to fellow workers and/or the public.

As of 2014, California employers are required to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with no less than 24 hours of sick leave per year. Sick days may be used after 90 days of employment. The responsibility for enforcement of this law lies with the California labor Commissioner, who must investigate potential violations and impose fines on behalf of employers whose rights have been violated. [Read more…]


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.