$6.5 Million Awarded for Minnesota Wage Law Violations in State Court Class Action

Thursday, July 31, 2008
A Minnesota District Court judge has found an employer violated the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act ("MFLSA"). The Court determined that the employer, in violation of the Minnesota wage law, failed to maintain accurate time records, required employees to work "off the clock" (without pay) and denied employees adequate meal periods and rest breaks.
Braun v. Wal-Mart, Inc., decided June 30, 2008

The Court found that the employer's conduct was willful and awarded $6.5 million in compensatory damages to the class of nearly 56,000 workers in Minnesota. The Court determined that with respect to rest breaks for employees in Minnesota, the employer failed to have its legal department and human resources division review and comply with the law. The Court found what it characterized as the employer's simple ignorance of the law to be reckless, and therefore, willful. The Court also determined that evidence showed that the employer "knew or should have known" of the potential widespread problems.

The court has set the case for a fall jury trial to decide what additional penalties and punitive damages should be awarded. The punitive damages portion of the trial will be interesting because the court found over two million violations, and Minnesota law provides for a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation.
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