Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay up to $54.3 million to settle a class-action suit brought against it in Minnesota that alleged the firm reduced workers’ break time and let employees work off the clock.
Separately on Tuesday, the world’s largest retailer also said it was suspending a $15 billion share repurchase program. Wal-Mart said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it is temporarily discontinuing a $15 billion stock repurchase program its board approved in May 2007 due to the economic environment and instability in the credit market. The company said that, as of Oct. 31, it still had about $5 billion remaining from the initial authorization.
The retailer revealed the Minnesota settlement agreement in a joint statement released with the plaintiffs in the case.
The settlement could be shared by up to 100,000 current and former hourly employees who worked at Minnesota Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs between Sept. 11, 1998, and Nov. 14, 2008. It will also include a substantial payment to the state of Minnesota, the parties said. The deal is still subject to approval from a trial court.
“We are satisfied with this settlement, gratified that these hourly workers will now be paid after seven years of litigation and happy that the state of Minnesota will receive the largest wage and hour civil penalty in its history,” said attorney Justin Perl of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, which represented the class.
Nancy Braun, a former hourly employee, first filed the suit in 2001 and was later joined by other workers. Braun’s initial complaint accused the retailer of not allowing for sufficient breaks and meal periods.
In July, after a trial in Hastings, Minn., a district court judge ordered Wal-Mart to pay $6.5 million to workers in the class-action suit. Following that decision, the discounter could have faced a jury trial to determine civil penalties in the case of up to $2 billion, had the two sides not reached a settlement.
As part of the settlement, Wal-Mart will maintain electronic systems, surveys and notices to further compliance with state wage and hour policies, the parties said.
“Wal-Mart is pleased that the court in Minnesota ruled in its favor on many claims,” said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar. “Our policies are to pay every associate for every hour worked and to make rest and meal breaks available for associates.”
In his July decision, Judge Robert R. King Jr. said Wal-Mart’s management “put their heads in the sand” when they did not respond to internal audits that should have alerted them to the potential for widespread problems with break times. King found that employees missed 1.6 million rest breaks and cut 428,641 breaks short over a nearly four-and-a-half-year span.
The court has scheduled a hearing for preliminary approval of the settlement for Jan. 14.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast