A proposed class and collective action claims Walmart has failed to pay employees for hours worked unloading trucks while off the clock during unpaid meal breaks.
The 14-page case out of Kentucky alleges Walmart has violated federal and state labor laws by instructing hourly employees to unload trucks during their mandatory, unpaid lunch breaks, depriving workers of regular wages and overtime compensation.
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The lawsuit, filed by a former employee whose duties consisted primarily of unloading trucks of inventory at the Hanson, Kentucky Walmart, says that the mega retailer’s alleged misconduct is the result of two conflicting policies. First, it is Walmart’s policy to discipline employees if they do not clock out for a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break “no earlier than exactly three hours after clocking in at the beginning of the shift and no later than exactly five hours after the end of the shift,” the case states. At the same time, however, the company has a policy that dictates “truck drivers should not be made to wait and that trucks should be unloaded as soon as possible after they arrived,” the suit relays.
According to the complaint, these policies conflict in actual practice:
“[G]iven staffing levels, if a truck arrived just as an employee had begun a lunch break, the employee would either have to interrupt his or her lunch break to unload the truck, or the truck driver would have to wait for the unloading employee to have his or her break.
Similarly, if a truck arrived before an employee had begun taking a meal break, but was not yet unloaded by the time five hours after the employee clocked in, the employee would either have to stop unloading the truck to take the meal break, causing the truck driver to have to wait, or fail to begin taking the meal break within five hours of clocking in.”
As the case tells it, Walmart has resolved this conflict by “permitting, allowing, and/or requiring” employees to begin working without pay if a truck arrives during their break. The filing argues that Walmart has captured on its cameras “numerous occasions” in which employees unloaded trucks during supposed meal periods, often in the presence of management.
The lawsuit contends that under the Kentucky Wages and Hours Act, workers were entitled to overtime compensation since time spent unloading trucks totaled more than 40 hours in many weeks. Additionally, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act stipulates that employers must pay employees time-and-a-half overtime wages, the complaint asserts.
The lawsuit looks to represent all current and former Walmart employees in Kentucky who, within the past five years, were not paid full compensation owed for their work (including both overtime and non-overtime work) because the company suffered, permitted or required work during an unpaid “meal break” period.
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