Judge Philip Pro’s ruling in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas closed the book on 39 actions against the world’s largest retailer. The suits, filed in federal courts in 30 states, accused the company of cheating workers out of hourly wages by forcing them to work through breaks and other means.

This story first appeared in the November 4, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In December, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said it intended to end 63 class-action labor suits filed in state and local courts between 2000 and 2007. Wal-Mart said it would pay between $352 million and $640 million to settle the cases, but that the agreements would need individual court approval.

Judge Pro’s ruling this week will affect about 3.2 million class members, each of whom has until Monday to submit a request for a cash payment of between $50 and $1,000. The agreement calls for a third of the total sum paid to cover the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

Lawyers for the class said it is the largest for wage and hour cases in the country’s history. According to court documents, only 14 class members raised objections to the settlement.

The agreement also calls for Wal-Mart to take measures to ensure it complies with wage and hour laws. When it revealed the settlements last year, the retailer said the allegations in the suits were not representative of the company as it is today.

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