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Driver issuesLegal issuesNewsTrucking

Court upholds ruling that Walmart pay California drivers $54.6 million for layover time

A federal appeals court panel has upheld a lower court ruling that Walmart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) must abide by a $54.6 million jury award compensating a group of California-based drivers for 10-hour end-of-shift layovers, rest breaks and inspections.

In a ruling issued Jan. 6, the three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the drivers were entitled to compensation under California law because Walmart had exercised control over their schedules during mandated layovers and other breaks. State law requires that employees be paid a minimum wage covering the entire time they are under an employer’s control. Cases such as these hinge on the magnitude of an employer’s control rather than if an employee is required to work.

The driver class has argued they should be paid the additional wages, which would be equal to the difference between Walmart’s “layover fee” and the minimum wage they would be entitled to under state law. The ruling covers employees who drove for Walmart from 2004 to 2015 and is the latest action in a case that stretches back well over a decade.

The panel dismissed Walmart’s claims that the drivers, who are already well paid by industry standards, should have the disputed wages effectively rolled into their salaries. The panel also brushed aside the retailer’s argument that federal law preempts state jurisdiction over such matters.

Writing for the panel, Judge Eugene E. Siler cited language in Walmart’s driver pay manuals demonstrating that the company exercised control over their drivers even when they were not on the road. For example, drivers were required to obtain company pre-approval before taking layovers at home, Siler noted. The judge wrote that “there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find” that Walmart had applied the policies stated in its manual and thus had control over the employees.

In a nod to the unique nature of California law, Siler acknowledged that a key part of Walmart’s argument — that drivers should not be compensated during periods when federal and state statutes require them not to work — “has logical appeal, but it does not follow California law.”

The panel heard arguments in the case last August.

In a statement late Jan. 6, Walmart said it believes that its drivers are “paid in compliance with California law and often in excess of what California law requires.” The company also cited its drivers’ elevated wages as evidence of its generosity.

Walmart said in the statement that it is reviewing the panel’s opinion before moving forward with a possible appeal.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.

11 Comments

  1. What about the rest of us that sit a Walmart for 8 to 9 hours waiting to get unloaded on a regular basis. How about we just not deliver to Walmart anymore. Jerkoffs.

    1. How ’bout you get your three years with a clean record and apply to drive for Walmart? Funny how you call them jerkoffs now, but if you got on with them and started pulling in twice or more than you are making now, you’d be happy to be a jerkof

      1. You full of shit..a union driver gets the pay they deserve. Union workers make more than non union workers. Union shops get better insurance than non union workers
        Union workers are protected unlike non union workers.

  2. Remember Walmart was also screwing their own drivers out legitimate paid for time on the job. If the rest of us would stick together and sue our mostly truckload employers, we could get paid for that time too. This case proves that, but truckload drivers believe their employers bs that they cant pay you because WAlmart will not pay them detention. When will the truckload drivers learn, your contract is not with Walmart, it is with YOUR employer. By law, your employer is obligated to pay you, no matter if walmart doesnt pay them. When that happens again, before deregulation the drivers where paid for all time on the job. It was up to the employer to charge enough to pay their employees!

    1. EXTREMELY well said ! HEAR , HEAR !

      If I may , I would like too add ,

      Quote:

      “before deregulation the drivers where paid for all time on the job. ”

      “Unionized” truck drivers were , not rural truckers . Rural truckers were the ones that lobbied for deregulation . They didn’t want any part of the “collusion” among major carriers, the federal government , and the organized labour union(Teamsters) .

      GREAT COMMENT !

      In my humble opinion ……..

    2. Rural farmers who own trucks are not the problem but companies that brought in drivers both domestic and mainly foreign to lower their wages costs and then able to underbid good companies that paid their drivers fairly.

  3. Good !! ” Que Bueno” Congratulations to all the Walmart Drivers you guys deserve it !! Also Job Well Done to the Law Firm that represented the Driver’s…

  4. Lol.. when swift finally settled the law suit a handful of original plaintiffs got a little money. Out of 100 million drivers averaged 250 bucks that’s 5 million for drivers to split a 95 million for lawyers.

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