Workers generally expect that any time required by the employer is time for which they get paid. This should hold true regardless of whether the employees are performing work or receiving training necessary to perform the job. According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Wal-Mart, the retail giant allegedly failed to compensate its pharmacists for time spent in training. Walmart denies these claims and contends it complied with the law.
The lawsuit was filed in California by Afrouz N., who worked for Wal-Mart from 2003 to 2014. Afrouz alleges Wal-Mart required its pharmacists to take the American Pharmacists Association’s Immunization Training programs, but failed to compensate them for the time spent on those training programs.
When determining the circumstances under which employers are obligated to pay their workers, the courts usually consider whether the tasks performed by the workers provided a benefit to the employer. In the case of the mandatory training, Afrouz alleges the immunization programs were directly related to his responsibilities as a pharmacist. Under the law, this according to Afrouz means the training programs directly benefited Wal-Mart by enabling pharmacists to perform their jobs, and therefore qualify as compensable time.
The class action wage and hour lawsuit further alleges the company failed to pay employees for rest breaks taken during their shifts. Under California labor law, employers are required to provide all hourly workers with a paid rest break of at least ten minutes for every four hours worked. For every five hours worked, employees are entitled to an unpaid meal break of at least half an hour. For every break an employee does not take, for any reason, the employee is entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages earned that day.
According to the wage and hour lawsuit, employees of Wal-Mart did take their rest breaks, but Wal-Mart deducted that time from their paychecks, which is against the law in California.
Afrouz filed his wage and hour lawsuit on behalf of himself and all other pharmacists who worked for Wal-Mart in the past four years. Wal-Mart sought to have the court strike the allegations of the class action lawsuit. Judge Andrew Guilford refused to do so, but he did dismiss the charges. However, he has given Afrouz 21 days to amend his complaint, at which point he will have another chance at class certification.
The requirements for class certification have gotten stricter lately. Although the requirements still vary between courts and judges, many are now requiring plaintiffs to provide more and more evidence in order to achieve class certification. Some judges still argue that the certification period is not the proper time for evidence.
Class action defense attorneys have been fighting for higher qualifications for class certification, arguing that once a class is certified, defendants are under increased pressure to settle the dispute. The majority of class action lawsuits settle outside of court.
However, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure gives only a few qualifications for class certification. Under the Federal Rules, plaintiffs must have enough members to justify filing their complaints as one class action; the complaints of the class members and the named plaintiff must all be similar enough to file jointly; and the class representative must have a claim or claims enough like those of the class members to make a fair representative.
Our Rolling Meadows, Palatine and Waukegan overtime lawyers and attorneys are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
Nationwide Consumer Rights is based in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace. We represent clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at 630-333-0333 or through our online form.