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2004-11-27
Tallahassee, FL. Class Action Status for 'Off the Clock' Lawsuit Denied in Florida

The 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee, Florida has let Wal-Mart off the hook -- for now -- in a class action lawsuit that was brought in Florida by some of its own employees who charge they were forced to work off the clock without pay. The court ruling means these plaintiffs cannot combine their cases into one 'class action' suit that would have represented 230,000 Florida Wal-Mart workers. Lawyers for the Wal-Mart workers wanted the suit to cover all current and former hourly workers who had been employed on or after July 13, 1997. But the Appeals ruling this week says that this definition is too broad. "It includes members who never worked off the clock and therefore have no interest in the lawsuit," a panel of 3 judges wrote. But they left the door open for another class action suit if the range of plaintiffs is narrowed. A class action suit reduces the time and money that each individual plaintiff has to spend to bring their case forward. At the lower court level, a judge had ruled that the class action would be so large that it would overwhelm the court system as it tried to determine damages. The lower court said if a jury decided that Wal-Mart had cheated employees, thousands of separate trials would then have to be held to decide compensation for each worker. But this week's Appeals Court disagreed, and said the "individualized nature of their damages claims should not bar certification of the class." According to the Associated Press, Minnesota and Indiana have ruled to allow class-action lawsuits in off the clock cases, but California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Texas did not.

What you can do: For earlier stories on this subject, search Newsflash by "off the clock" or "lawsuit."










 
 
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