Walmart lost its appeal in the Ninth Circuit on Monday (Jan. 6) when appellate court judges affirmed a $54.6 million award to Walmart truck drivers in California. The suit involved non-payment for breaks taken by drivers and required by law.
Federal law dictates truck drivers a take 30-minute break during their workday in which they cannot drive more than 11 hours in a 24-hour period.
Walmart employs about 9,000 truck drivers, according to the retailer’s website. The retail giant also has said it pays almost $90,000 a year to drivers who must have a stellar safety record. The national median pay for drivers is $42,000, according to the industry trade group.
Walmart said it stands by its pay practices and the company is reviewing the Ninth Circuit option and will explore its options.
“We continue to believe that our truck drivers are paid in compliance with California law and often in excess of what California law requires,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told Talk Business & Politics. “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.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in 2018 California trucking companies don’t need to provide paid rest and meal breaks for driver employees in and outside of California. Other court rulings have sided with drivers. In 2018, Arkansas-based P.A.M. Transport was ordered to pay its drivers for any time spent inside the truck after drivers sued in 2016.
In Fayetteville, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks said in his ruling any time spent in the truck while not eating or sleeping must be counted as “on-duty” requiring payment.