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Walmart cashiers in California won a landmark victory in their class action suit, Brown v. Walmart, for the right to take a seat. Though denying any wrongdoing in this nine-year-old federal case, Walmart agreed to pay $65 million to nearly 100,000 current and former cashiers, preventing the case from going to trial later this year. The company also agreed to provide seating for its California cashiers. The settlement still needs approval by a federal judge.
California law requires seating for employees "when the nature of the work reasonably permits." Walmart claimed that although they have given seats to other workers in the past, providing them for cashiers wasn't feasible. The company thought it was a safety hazard and could make workers less productive. However, after a similar case involving CVS pharmacy was won by plaintiff cashiers, and the judge ruled this case should go to trial, Walmart undoubtedly saw that the writing was on the wall. Granted items purchased at Walmart are on average larger than at CVS, which may be hard for cashiers to scan while seated, that may have not been enough for Walmart to stand on.
This is the largest settlement ever recorded under California's Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), which gives employees the right to recover civil penalties for certain violations of the California Labor Code. PAGA allows workers to sue their employers on behalf of the state and keep one fourth of any money that they win; the state collects the other 75 percent.
This is just another lawsuit in the string of many brought against the retail behemoth. In total, Walmart has paid out over $1 billion in class action claims filed by its employees. In December 2008, Walmart paid out $640 million, its largest settlement to date, to shake off 63 federal and state lawsuits claiming the company cheated hourly workers and forced them to work through breaks. Just last month, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit accusing Walmart of forcing pregnant Wisconsin warehouse workers to go on unpaid leave and denying them the right to take on easier duties, though that benefit had been given to other disabled employees in the past. There are also similar class action lawsuits pending in New York and Illinois.
If you or someone you love has been treated unfairly at work, and you believe the mistreatment rises to the level of breaking the law, contact a local employment lawyer. A trained attorney can quickly tell you if your claim has merit, and can fight to bring you the relief you deserve.
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