In a recent case against Wal-Mart, brought by hundreds of California truck drivers working for the retail giant, the jury awarded $54 million for wage and hour violations. According to the lawsuit, Wal-Mart truck drivers were not being paid by the hour, but instead by mileage. That means they were not paid for certain activities such as cleaning the trucks and performing inspections. The drivers also alleged that they were not paid for layovers, despite being required to stay with their trucks.
Wal-Mart’s response to the truck drivers’ claims
Wal-Mart first claims that its drivers, some of whom make more than $100,000 annually, are among the best-paid in the industry. The company also claims that it pays those drivers $42 for each 10-hour overnight layovers, which it considers an extra benefit, especially in light of the fact that it does not control the driver’s activities during that layover period.
Wal-Mart faces continued criticism over pay and treatment of employees
Criticism regarding Wal-Mart’s alleged pay and treatment of its employees is not a new. In light of the history of claims brought by employees, Wal-Mart recently announced its plans to award pay raises to approximately half a million workers in America. This effort was part of a purported $1-billion investment intended to give its employees more advancement opportunities and other benefits.
Wage and hour regulations regarding “wait time”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, determining whether waiting time should be considered hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) depends on the situation. However, in most cases, when an employee is “engaged to wait” that is considered work time. As opposed to “waiting to be engaged,” which is not considered work time. A common example of being “engaged to wait” would be a fireman who is watching television while waiting for the alarm to sound.
Regulations regarding rest periods
There are also other break periods or periods of inactivity that should be paid time. For example, short rest periods of 20 minutes or less are typically counted as hours worked. Bona fide meal periods of 30 minutes or more are not required to be compensated as hours worked. However, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating, instead of being required to perform duties while eating.
Regulations regarding sleep periods
Employees who are required to be on duty for less than 24 hours are considered working even though those employees are allowed to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not actively working. Furthermore, an employee who is required to be on duty for 24 hours or more can have an agreement with his or her employer to exclude from hours worked sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours, which are bona
fide and regularly scheduled. However, the employer must provide adequate sleeping facilities allowing for an uninterrupted night's sleep.
If you feel you have been the victim of wage or hour violations, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.