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Wal-Mart Loses Suit on Work Breaks

October 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. forced employees to work through rest breaks and off the clock, violating Pennsylvania labor laws, a state jury found Thursday.

The jury, however, ruled in Wal-Mart's favor on the claim that it denied workers meal breaks.

The jury now must decide damages in the class-action suit, which covers as many as 187,000 current and former hourly Wal-Mart workers.

Plaintiffs' lawyers say the damages could reach $162 million.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant is facing a slew of similar suits around the country.

Wal-Mart settled a Colorado case for $50 million and was appealing a $172-million award handed out last year by a California jury.

"This is the second [verdict]. With 56 more to go, I think it reinforces that this company's sweatshop mind-set is a serious problem, both legally and morally," said Chris Kofinis, a spokesman for WakeUpWalMart.com, a union-funded effort to improve working conditions at the stores.

The company declined to comment because of the pending deliberations over damages.

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