- Walmart must pay $54.6 million to resolve a class-action suit brought by the company's truck drivers, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held (Ridgeway v. Walmart, Nos. 17-15983 17-16142 (9th Cir. Jan. 6, 2019)).
- The drivers filed suit seeking back pay for time spent in layover (a mandatory break required by the U.S. Department of Transportation), on break or in inspections. The three-judge panel concluded, "time drivers spent on layovers was compensable if Wal-Mart exercised control over the drivers during those breaks."
- Walmart's driver pay manual was at the heart of the decision as it said drivers remained under Walmart's control during the 10-hour layover time at the end of a shift.
Employers in various industries and jurisdictions have in recent years sought clarity with respect to "working time," but the trucking industry, in particular, seems to struggle with compensable time issues.
And Ridgeway may not be the final word in this suit, either. "We continue to believe that our truck drivers are paid in compliance with California law and often in excess of what California law requires," Randy Hargrove, the senior director of national media relations for Walmart, told HR Dive's sister site Supply Chain Dive in an emailed statement. "We are proud that our drivers are among the best paid in the industry, earning, on average, between $80,000 to over $100,000 per year. We are reviewing the 9th Circuit's opinion and will explore our options."
This litigation has been working its way through court for over a decade, but the debate around mandatory breaks has gotten more attention in recent years with the implementation of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Drivers say they need more flexibility, and the DOT says it's planning to give it to them, but a new rule from the agency has been in the rulemaking process since August 2019.