Joint statement from Wal-Mart and counsel for Plaintiffs regarding wage and hour class action case of Braun v. Wal-Mart
January 15, 2009
Hastings, Minnesota, [January 14, 2009]:
Dakota County District Court Judge Robert King, Jr. preliminarily approved the settlement of a wage and hour class action suit against Wal-Mart in Minnesota, a settlement that was earlier disclosed by the parties on December 9, 2008. The settlement, which will total up to $54,250,000 concludes more than seven years of litigation concerning Wal-Mart's employment practices in Minnesota. In addition, as part of the settlement, Wal-Mart has agreed to continue to maintain electronic systems, surveys, and notices that will protect the rights of workers.
"We are especially proud of the fact that the court found that our efforts in this case led to significant changes in Wal-Mart's practices nationwide," said Justin Perl, formerly of the Minneapolis law firm of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, counsel for the class. Jonathan Parritz, another lawyer for the class from the Maslon firm, added: "This settlement provides real monetary benefits to thousands of Wal-Mart's Minnesota workers, results in a large payment to the State of Minnesota, and avoids the additional delay and risk from further trials and appeals which could take years to resolve."
"This lawsuit was filed years ago and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today," said Daphne Moore, Wal-Mart spokesperson. "Our policy is to pay associates for every hour worked and to make rest and meal breaks available. This is a commitment we make to the more than 1.4 million associates who choose to work for Wal-Mart and serve our customers and members every day. We have worked hard to have the right communication, processes and systems in place to help ensure we live up to this commitment."
Preliminary approval triggers a rigorous program of notice to class members, including mailed notification to class members, published notice in local newspapers, a toll free number for class members to call and a website. It is anticipated that notice will be mailed to class members within one month of the court's preliminary approval. A hearing to consider final approval of the settlement is set for May 27, 2009, after class members have been given notice of the settlement and an opportunity to make a claim for the proceeds based on their experiences working for Wal-Mart in Minnesota during the period from September 11, 1998 to November 14, 2008.
The Plaintiff class was also represented at trial by William R. Sieben of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben Law Firm, and was supported by a team of 16 lawyers and legal assistants from the Maslon and Schwebel firms plus the Denver, Colorado law firms of Azar & Associates and Bader and Associates.
The full text of the settlement agreement, as well as Plaintiffs' brief in support of preliminary approval of the settlement, can be found on file at the Dakota County Courthouse.