The 10 Biggest Walmart Lawsuits in Company History

Walmart

Walmart gets sued at least 20 times a day, which adds up to around 5,000 lawsuits in a year. The majority of these lawsuits are usually filed by Walmart’s employees, complaining about wage and hour malpractices or workplace discrimination. In this article, we will take a closer look at the 10 most notorious Walmart Lawsuits in the company’s history.

10. West Virginia Personal Injury 2019

The West Virginia Personal injury lawsuit involved a 52-year-old woman that went grocery shopping with her granddaughter in one of the Walmart stores in the area. While in the store, the store’s security personnel caught someone shoplifting and went on to detain him at the back of the store. As the known shoplifter tried to flee from security, he ran the grandmother over as he sprang out, completely knocking to the ground and causing the shopping cart that she had to fall on top of her. The plaintiff suffered major abdominal injuries that caused harm to her intestines, requiring her to undergo a number of surgeries, more than 20 hospitalizations, and leaving with life-devastating injuries. She hired a personal injury attorney and sued the store, claiming that the store’s security staff was negligent in their attempts to arrest the shoplifter. Despite Walmart arguing it was the shoplifter’s fault, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her $16,900,000.

9. Pennsylvania Employees Class Action Suit

Over the past decade, the mega-retailer Walmart had faced several wage and hour lawsuits. Employees of the Pennsylvania branch filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the company’s handbook required all workers to be paid for certain work breaks depending on the duration of their shift. According to the employees, Walmart violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay them for these promised work breaks. After listening to both parties, the Court made a verdict of $224,000,000 against the company and ordered Walmart to pay a total of $188 million to about 187,000 affected employees. Later on, the retail store Wal-Mart appealed the case to the US Supreme Court, which vehemently declined to hear the reported case.

8. Videotape in Pennsylvania Walmart Bathroom

On 25. December 2009, ABC News reported that a Walmart Supercenter located in Pennsylvania videotaped the store’s customers and workers in a unisex bathroom. Seven current and former Walmart workers from the Tire and Lube department in Easton, Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against four local managers in Walmart’s Arkansas-based corporation. According to the suit, several Walmart’s employees were recorded by an undisclosed video camera in a store washroom on 31. March 2008. The Court also discovered that the unisex washroom also served as a dressing room that was used by the company’s customers and employees. During the court proceedings, Walmart argued that two of its employees were responsible for installing the video camera. The store’s spokesman, Greg Rossiter, explained, “The two workers were fired for placing a video camera in the store’s dressing room.” He later added, saying, “… When the management learned of the hidden video camera action was immediately taken, and it was removed.” The defendant also claimed that the video camera was placed by the store’s loss-prevention department. Thus, the camera was mainly used to monitor the company’s workers for a possible robbery. The store also said that it was unclear how long the recording was taking place.

7. EEOC (Janice Smith) Vs. Walmart Stores Inc.

The lead plaintiff in the EEOC (Janice Smith) Vs. Walmart Stores Inc. was The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit was heard in the Eastern District court of Kentucky in 2001. According to the Huffington Post, it was filed on sexual discrimination grounds, the involved parties being female employees in Walmart’s Distribution Center. The plaintiffs claimed that Walmart’s actions were against the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Moreover, they requested the Court to grant them prospective injunctions, pay, and affirmative reliefs for all the female workers who were discriminated against during Walmart’s remuneration process. The Court’s ruling was in favor of the plaintiffs, and Walmart Stores was ordered to pay the aggrieved employees a total of 11.7 million dollars as compensation for their damages and back pay.

6. Brown Vs. Walmart Inc.

This matter was heard in the US District Court of The Northern District of California. Former California cashiers accused Walmart of failing to provide them with seating as they worked. During the Court’s proceedings, Walmart failed to challenge the plaintiffs’ accusations for seating violations. They also made arguments based on the cashier’s duties that had been earlier denied by the District Court. After listening to both parties, the Court ordered Walmart to pay a compensation fee of $65 million in damages caused to nearly 100,000 former and current cashiers in California. In addition to the compensation payout, Walmart Stores agreed to start providing seating to its California cashiers. Randy Hargrove, Walmart’s said,” We are pleased that the two parties involved have reached a consensus.”

5. Walmart Vs. City of Pontiac, Michigan

The Walmart Vs. City of Pontiac, Michigan case arose from allegations in an article published on April 21, 2012, by The New York Times. In this lawsuit, the retail giant agreed to settle the matter out of Court in an attempt to end the allegations of fraud brought against it, as reported by Reuters. The allegations were that Walmart was operating against the Federal Corruption Practices Act in China, India, Mexico, and Brazil. According to the lawsuit, Walmart falsely presented itself to potential investors as a model corporate citizen that actively uncovers potential corruption cases and immediately reports them to the legal authorities. In truth, one of their former attorneys had previously reported Walmart’s corrupt practices, but it decided to hide these allegations from the relevant authorities by refusing any attempts at an investigation on the matter. As a result, the investors went on and bought Walmart’s shares at high prices, which later went down the drain after the truth was exposed. On April 8, 2019, the Hon. Susan O. Hickey of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas ruled in favor of the City of Pontiac and later approved a settlement fee of $160 million to the City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System. Furthermore, Walmart accepted no claim of guilt, liability, or wrongdoing in its business operations. Initially, this matter was filled in the US District Court of Fayetteville, where the retirement fund was the lead plaintiff.

4. Smith Vs. Walmart Stores Inc.

This lawsuit is cited as Smith v. Walmart Stores, Inc., 305 F. Supp. 2d 652 (SD Miss. 2003). In this 2003 case file, the plaintiffs alleged that Walmart incorrectly mislabeled the pay stubs of some of its workers with the tags Wal-Mart or Walmart instead of the company’s full legal name. Moreover, the plaintiffs accused the retail giant and its top management of the following violations:

  • Fraud
  • Conversion
  • Fraudulent concealment
  • Civil conspiracy
  • Breach of contractual rights

According to the plaintiffs, Walmart Stores failed to properly compensate them for their rightfully earned pay. They claimed this was a result of the management manipulating their timesheets. The plaintiffs also went on to accuse the company of false imprisonment that the defendant was locked up in their stores and not allowed to leave, as reported by Justia. The Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered Walmart to pay a fine of $1.6 million in a bid to compensate the plaintiffs and affected employees for the back pay and damages caused.

3. EEOC Vs. Walmart, Inc. 2020

On August 3, 2020, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, London Division. This suit is filled as EEOC Vs. Walmart, Inc., Case No. 6:20-cv-00163-KKC). According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Walmart Stores carried out a Physical Ability Test(PAT) as a means of hiring applicants at Walmart’s grocery distribution centers nationwide. The EEOC claimed that the PAT disproportionately denies female applicants the opportunity of working at the distribution centers. Moreover, EEOC explained that this conduct is a complete violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex. It also prohibits employers from administering tests that may cause a discriminatory impact or effect on a particular sex or persons of other demographic status. The two parties involved decided to reach an agreement through a pre-litigation voluntary conciliation process. Both parties reached a settlement and filed a motion to a consent decree, which was approved by the Court on September 9, 2020. The consent decree required Walmart to pay $20 million as a settlement to the women who lost wages across the country and were denied the opportunity of working at the company’s distribution stores because of the Physical Ability Test (PAT). The consent decree also required Walmart to cease all pre-employment tests that are currently being used in the company for purposes of employing grocery distribution center order fillers.

2. EEOC Vs. Walmart Stores East LP

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed its lawsuit as EEOC Vs. Walmart Stores East LP, Case No. 17-cv-70 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The EEOC presented to the court evidence that the change Walmart made to Mario Spaeth’s work schedule caused her tremendous inconvenience. EEOC explained that Walmart failed to act on Mario’s request of being returned to her previous work schedule and adjusting her start and end times by 60 to 90 minutes. The EEOC claimed that Walmart decided to dismiss their longtime employee, Mario Spaeth, after she had worked for them for 16 years and often received positive work evaluations from her employers. EEOC alleged that this conduct was a complete violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on their disability. After attempting to reach a pre-litigation agreement through a voluntary conciliation process, the 8-member jury in Green Bay found that Walmart declined to accommodate their longtime employee Mario Spaeth because of her disability and later dismissed her in July 2015. The Court made a ruling in favor of the EEOC on their three allegations of employment discrimination based on discrimination against Walmart. It ordered Walmart to award Mario Spaeth $150,000 for damages caused and pay a court fine of $125 million following a four-day trial.

1. Walmart Stores, Inc. Vs. Dukes

Walmart stores, Inc. Vs. Dukes, case file 564 US 338, was a US Supreme Court case in 2011. The Supreme court ruled that a group of approximately 1.5 million previous female Walmart employees did not qualify as a certified class of plaintiff in a lawsuit for workplace discrimination against the company. Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff, pioneered this class-action lawsuit against Walmart for gender discrimination in regards to the remuneration of female employees and promotion policies and practices. The Court was supposed to determine whether the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 23(b)(2), applied to the case. The Rule provides for a class action to demand monetary damage if a defendant’s actions necessitate injunctive relief. Additionally, the Court had to decide whether the named parties met the traditional requirements of commonality, adequacy, typicality, and numerosity of representation. After keenly hearing the arguments of both parties, the Supreme Court made a ruling in favor of Walmart Stores. The Court’s ruling was based on the fact that the plaintiffs had inadequate commonality to lead the class action. Also, their cases had major variabilities based on their circumstances. This lawsuit is considered the largest workplace lawsuit in the United States history as it involved around 1.5 million former and current female Walmart workers. Years later, in November 2017, 7 women who were represented in the 2011 lawsuit filed a new lawsuit in the Florida Southern District Court alleging discrimination in promotion and compensation against Walmart and Sam’s Club female workers in the southeastern USA. The plaintiffs asked the Court for compensation, including damages for lost compensation and back pay. Walmart Stores declared, again, saying these claims did not qualify as a class action.

Conclusion

Walmart is a large company with millions of employees and customers, which explains why there have been countless Walmart Lawsuits over the years. Because these lawsuits tend to cost a lot of money in legal fees and compensation, most of them are usually settled out of Court.

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