by Art Gutman Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

Recently, we reported two wage & hour cases in which Wal-Mart agreed to a settlement of up to $86 million dollars for up to 232,000 former employees related to allegations of nonpayment for vacation or personal leave in accordance with California state law after they were terminated and a similar claim under Oregon state law for up to 4.4 million dollars for as many as 28,000 former employees terminated between December 9, 2002 and March 26, 2010. Now we learn of two other settlements involving allegations similar to those in Braun v. Wal-Mart (2007) in which a jury awarded nearly $250 million dollars under Pennsylvania State law for violations for overtime violations and failure to honor break times.

In one of the settlements, Charter Communications LLC agreed to pay $18 million to settle a class action lawsuit for failure to pay for a variety of activities they were required to perform before and after their shifts (Goodell v. Charter Communications LLC, W.D. Wis., No. 3:08-CV-00512, preliminary approval 5/20/10). The class consists of 3,627 current and former field technicians who worked for Charter in nine states in 31 different positions. In the other settlement, Boston-area hospitals have agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle allegations that they required employees to work during breaks and before and after their shifts (Woolfson v. Caregroup Inc., D. Mass., No. 09-cv-11464-JLT, preliminary approval 6/1/10). It’s interesting how many of these types of settlements are beginning to emerge in the wake of the 9th Circuit en banc ruling in Dukes v. Wal-Mart (2010) [603 F.3d 571].

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