500 truck drivers set to sue Walmart
A federal district ruled on 10 September that over 500 current and former Walmart truck drivers in California can proceed with a class action lawsuit against the company it claims has violated state wage and hour laws.
The drivers accused Walmart of failing to comply with California state law by refusing to pay the minimum wages for all the hours they worked and for disregarding their needs for adequate meal and rest breaks.
In particular, Walmart’s “piece rate” pay policy, whereby activities suchs as fueling washing, weighing truck and completing paperwork are payed at an “activity pay rate” or even at a lower “non-activity rate”, came in for scrutiny.
Walmart’s riposte was that the rates were guidelines rather than policies, and that they made exceptions for individual drivers. They also argued that the drivers’ claims lacked “commonality” due to the individual nature of their pay structure.
Judge Susan Illston wrote: “While Walmart argues that there are varying circumstances in which individual drivers may be granted pay at the discretion of general transportation managers, this does not negate plaintiffs’ assertion that there is a general default policy. This policy id defined in the driver reference and pay manuals against paying drivers for certain tasks.”
“These are common questions that predominate over individual questions of whether certain drivers received additional discretionary pay after requesting such payment for certain tasks, or whether some drivers completed tasks like paperwork during wait-time or attended to personal phone calls during layovers.”