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Walmart’s private fleet ordered to pay drivers $55M in back pay, carrier plans to appeal

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Walmart says it plans to appeal the Nov. 22-issued verdict. (Photo by Jim Allen/365 Trucking.)

Walmart Transportation has been ordered by a federal jury to pay 850 current and former truck drivers a total of $55 million in back pay, stemming from a 2015 ruling that the retail giant’s private fleet did not comply with California minimum wage laws.

Notably, the fleet did not pay drivers for federally stipulated 10-hour off-duty periods, accounting for $44.7 million of the class-action payout. Other unpaid tasks included pre- and post-trip inspections. Walmart’s pay practices are in line with standard industry pay practices, as most carriers do not pay drivers for their off-duty time or for time spent on inspections and other non-driving tasks.

Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove says the carrier will likely appeal the verdict, arguing that the company was in compliance with California laws requiring workers to be paid minimum wage for all hours worked.

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“Our drivers are among the highest paid in the industry, earning from approximately $80,000 to over $100,000 per year,” Hargrove said. “We strongly believe that our truck drivers are paid in compliance with California law and often in excess of what California law requires. Walmart is a great place to work, as demonstrated by the fact that more than 90 percent of our drivers have been with the company for more than 10 years”

The Nov. 22-issued payout order follows a May 2015 ruling by Senior District Judge Susan Illston, who said Walmart’s per-mile pay package put the carrier sideways with California law.

The private fleet “intentionally [failed] to pay minimum wage to class members” between Oct. 7, 2007 and Oct. 15, 2015, the court ruled.

The payout to class members includes $44.69 million for unpaid 10-hour breaks, nearly $6 million for pre- and post-trip inspections and another $3.96 million for 10-minute rest breaks.

The case was originally filed in 2008 in California state court, but the suit was later referred to federal court and stamped with class-action certification, covering about 850 drivers that worked for the company during the 2007-2015  time period.

The case could set a precedent for other carriers operating in the state. CCJ will pursue more on the ruling this week.

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4 comments
David P. Wisla
David P. Wisla

Our company drivers are paid from the time they punch in until the time they punch out. We pay hourly rates and yes we pay for the pre and post trip inspections and for all of the time the drivers aren't doing anything but sitting and waiting in their trucks. BUT, we do not pay for off duty time! Who in the world does? If somebody does, I'll close my shop and go to work for them!! I must admit that the drivers I'm talking about are all local, "last mile" drivers.

Our OTR crowd is paid by the mile, and a pretty hefty percentage at that. None have ever, in my twenty years of ownership, come and asked to be paid for their down time. They would be laughed out of my office by the other drivers. And those who choose the OTR life understand this. They are paid well, earning over $80,000 per annum, in most cases. But they certainly work for it. OTR life is difficult but down time is down time. Our drivers get to pick and choose their work. They can take an offered load or turn it down. They know how many hours it will take and accept that as part of the job. If they choose to take a co-driver, they are paid accordingly. But again, NOT for down time.

To Mr./Ms. notguest, I totally agree. We are, and have been for a while, just sick of California, save for the few friends I have there. I think they are sick of it as well. (We try not to go there, we're afraid some of that silliness will rub off on ILLINOIS)   

smostovoy
smostovoy

This is just not hitting Walmart. This is hitting every company in CA that had mileage pay drivers.  Our Governer signed a bill that mandates every company that paid their drivers mileage pay, goes back to 2012 to current and pays them back pay.  Which is so stupid.  How can you penalize a company that was going by the laws at that time.  I can see changing it and saying from this point forward this is the rule.  It makes absolutely no sense to go back and penalize these employers for what was not the labor code then.  You can thank the CA governor for putting companies out of business, because that is what he has done.  Small owned companies don't have millions to play with.  These drivers make alot of money and it is sad that this is happening.

notguest
notguest

Everyone is sick and tired of California... 

TravisLaw
TravisLaw

This is stupid.  They were OFF DUTY.  Does anybody in the free world get paid for being OFF DUTY?  Our courts are messed up.  Just because Wal-Mart has deep pockets it does not give the employees the right to dip into them.  Truck driving is a job that takes you away from home for extended periods of time.  You will spend your off duty time in truck stops.  That is the life and career these drivers chose.  Most of the time I stand behind our hard working truck drivers and support them in any way I can.  This group of drivers needs to take a step back and check their conscience.  GOOD LUCK WALMART!

James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.