Federal Court of Appeals Upholds Verdict in Favor of Wal-Mart Truckers

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a ruling in favor of Wal-Mart truckers, upholding a $54.6 million verdict in their favor. The ruling pertains to a class action suit filed by the truckers, alleging they were legally entitled to compensation for various expenses related to their jobs, which Wal-Mart refused to pay. The Court of Appeals upheld the verdict from the lower court, which said that the drivers were, indeed, entitled to compensation for these expenses.

In Ridgeway v. Walmart Inc., 2020 WL 55073 (9th Cir. 2020), Wal-Mart truck drivers filed a class action suit seeking compensation for layovers, rest breaks and inspections performed while transporting goods on behalf of Wal-Mart. In response, Wal-Mart claimed the truckers were not entitled to that compensation, broadly arguing against the claim that the truckers should have been compensated during their breaks and arguing that the class certification for the truckers should not have been approved.

The court rejected Wal-Mart’s arguments, saying that Wal-Mart exerted sufficient control over the truckers during their layovers, rest breaks and inspections, mainly because Wal-Mart required the drivers to ask for permission before spending their breaks at home, which entitled the drivers to be compensated for this time. Furthermore, the court found Wal-Mart had been improperly calculating how it was paying the truckers, averaging out the time per hour they spent on break rather that calculating the breaks separately. Finally, the court found the class certification was made properly, although it rejected the truckers’ request for liquidated damages because Wal-Mart had acted reasonably and in good faith.

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