OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, is appealing a $172 million California jury award stemming from disputes over lunch breaks.
Employee plaintiffs in the case argued that Wal-Mart kept them from the 30-minute breaks every five hours, as required by California law. Failure to provide a full 30-minute break every five hours obligates an employer to provide a one-hour-of-pay penalty to "short-changed" workers, the California law stipulates.
The Oakland jury determined Thursday that the law was broken millions of times during 2001 and 2002. As a result, jurors awarded plaintiffs $57 million in actual damages, the cost of all legally obligated break penalties, plus $115 million in penalties.
Wal-Mart, which acknowledged that it once had had "issues" observing the California law, vowed Friday to appeal, especially the punitive portion of the settlement.
Said the discounter, "California law prohibits penalties on top of penalties."