Walgreens Settles California Wage and Hour Litigation
April 16, 2014
Pharmacists, pharmacy staff members, non-exempt store managers, and retail employees of Walgreens Co. first joined to file a wage and hour claim against the pharmacy giant in May 2011. Over the next two years, eight additional class actions were filed throughout California against Walgreens. In July of 2013, the nine actions were consolidated in the Central District of California. The attorneys for both sides negotiated for seven months before Walgreens offered to settle the case for $23 million.
The consolidated lawsuits claim various violations of wage and hour laws under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California state labor laws. Such violations include the following:
Requiring employees to perform duties during meal and rest breaks;
Requiring employees to undergo bag checks after work without proper overtime compensation; and
Regularly requiring employees to travel for store transfers, trips to the bank, and company meetings with no compensation for the time spent traveling nor reimbursement for mileage or other travel costs.
Though Walgreens denied any liability regarding the allegations, both sides decided to try to come to a settlement agreement in order to avoid the extensive expense, time, energy, and uncertainty involved in such large litigation. The parties participated in mediation sessions and other negotiations to come to the proposed settlement agreement. The $23 million will potentially be divided for awards for 40,000 employees, court costs, and attorneys’ fees. The court will review the settlement and decide whether to approve it at a hearing on May 12, 2014.
The Benefits of Mediation and Negotiation
The above case is only one example of how alternative resolutions to trial may be beneficial to all parties in the litigation. Though most people associate lawsuits with the dramatic trials they see on television and in the movies, in truth litigation is not nearly that simple or glamorous. Instead, litigation may often drag on for years, with lengthy pretrial procedures, discovery conflicts, depositions, and more before a trial may even begin.
Trials themselves may be stressful and extremely costly for all involved. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that a jury will agree with the plaintiffs, so plaintiffs who go to trial risk potentially leaving with nothing. Mediation and other types of settlement negotiations are a way to decide on a resolution outside of the courtroom and avoid the extra time, money, and risk. It is important to have an employment attorney who is willing to explore other options and not insist on taking every case to trial.
However, there are some cases in which the parties simply cannot come to a satisfactory settlement agreement despite numerous attempts at mediation and negotiation. Therefore, you should also have an attorney who is willing to aggressively represent you at trial if necessary.
At Pershing Square Law Firm, we will be zealous advocates for our clients whether your case settles or goes to trial. If you are a California employee and believe that your employer has violating wage and hour laws, discrimination laws, or any other type of labor law, you should not hesitate to contact our office as soon as possible to schedule a consultation.