HASTINGS, Minn. – A state judge in Minnesota ruled that Wal-Mart could face more than $2 billion in fines for violating state labor law more than 2 million times. Judge Robert R. King Jr. said Wal-Mart owes $6.5 million to 56,000 current and former employees for contractual violations, including forcing employees to attend off-the-clock training, failing to give meal and rest breaks, and deducting pay for breaks that were longer than 15 minutes.
State law bars employers from reducing pay for breaks lasting less than 20 minutes, the judge said. King threatened to impose a $1,000 penalty for each violation.
The ruling held some good news for the retail giant, including dismissal of class-action claims that Wal-Mart managers made cashiers and stock personnel work off the clock.
Judge King set Oct. 20 as the date for the second phase of the trial, when jurors will determine punitive damages and statutory penalties.