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Wal-Mart avoids $80 million fine


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Associated Press/Reuters  /  January 26, 2017

A federal judge has refused to force Wal-Mart to pay $80 million in penalties in a lawsuit that accused the retail giant of failing to pay hundreds of truck drivers in California the minimum wage for certain tasks. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said in San Fransisco Wednesday that Wal-Mart acted in good faith when paying the drivers, believing its payment policy was in line with California's labor law.   

A jury awarded the workers more than $54 million in back wages in November after finding that Wal-Mart didn't pay the drivers the state's base wage for pre-and post-trip inspections,10-hour layovers and 10-minute rest breaks, the news services report.

Attorneys for the drivers had asked Illston to award an additional $80 million in penalties and damages.   

Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said its drivers earn among the highest salaries in the field and that the plaintiffs were "overreaching." The company has said its drivers earn from about $80,000 to more than $100,000 a year.

Illston largely agreed with Wal-Mart, citing testimony that she said showed Wal-Mart's compensation was among the highest in the trucking industry.

Attorneys for Wal-Mart also had said in a court filing that "reasonable minds could differ" about the legality of its pay and layover policies.

The judge said Wal-Mart's payment policy developed in an "uncertain" legal landscape, giving the company reasonable grounds to believe it was complying with California minimum wage law.

Wal-Mart drivers are not paid by the hour rather remuneration is based on mileage and specified activities.

The company argued during trial that it paid drivers for activities that included smaller tasks and could not have a separate payment designation for everything they did, some of which took just minutes.

Wal-Mart pays drivers $42 for 10-hour overnight layovers as an extra benefit, but it does not control their time during that period  

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Wal Mart in general is a p.o.s. (read who stole the American dream by Hyder Smith) HOWEVER, their drivers are among the best treated in the industry! Many of their drivers are former master freight drivers! You don't leave one of the best  teamster jobs in the country unless the new job is worth doing! Wal Mart brings in prospective drivers for up to five interviews before they hire them! Who would put up with that if the new job wasn't worth doing!?  Having said that,Wal Mart doesn't  treat their drivers well because they are nice people! The efficiency of their operation absolutely depends on seamless on time delivery of their product! How often do you go in a Wal Mart and find they are out of stock?! They can't afford unhappy drivers who don't care about doing an exceptional job! Every major  freight company in America has been trying to get Wal Marts entire delivery contract for the last 30 yrs! The best any of them can do is get to do WMs freight overage! It's very simple,when you lease your drivers you lose total control over them! The best comparison is K Mart,they've had lease drivers for decades and they are always out of stock and if you are delivering there God help you if you have a "live unload" five hrs minimum! Wal Mart has a three hrs unloading limit and they almost always get you unloaded in 3 hrs or less! Also their gate guards and warehouse workers are all employees! Most of the major grocers use employee drivers as well Public and Win Dixie here in Florida for example! I don't like Wal Mart but they run an efficient operation!



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