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Unfair Employment Practices


Wage and hour litigation concerns the method and manner of compensation and employment conditions. Abbey Spanier has extensive experience in representing current and former employees of large corporations who have been denied compensation in violation of the federal and state labor laws. Unfair employment cases include class actions for:

  • Misclassification of employees as exempt or as independent contractors 
  • Failure to pay otherwise exempt employees on a salary basis
  • "Off-the-clock" and regular rate cases
  • Donning and doffing activities
  • Unpaid on-duty meal periods
  • Denied reimbursements
  • Miscalculated commissions and bonuses
  • Tip pooling

Abbey Spanier is a lead counsel in Braun and Hummel v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Case Nos. 3127 and 3757 (Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County). Plaintiffs in this class action on behalf of 186,000 current and former hourly employees obtained a $78 million jury verdict against Wal-Mart and an express jury finding that Wal-Mart did not act in good faith in failing to pay class members for missed rest and rest breaks and off the clock work.

On October 3, 2007, Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to pay an additional $62.3 million in statutory damages to 124,506 current and former Pennsylvania employees of the company from 2002 through May 2006 who were not paid when they worked during rest breaks.

On June 1, 2011, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the $150 million judgment against Wal-Mart, and the three judge panel held that there was sufficient evidence in the record to conclude that Wal-Mart breached its contract with its hourly employees and violated the state's labor laws.  Thereafter, Wal-Mart sought leave to appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted in part Wal-Mart's motion for leave to appeal. The parties are in the process of briefing the appeal.

In Iliadis, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Case No. A-69-06 (May 31, 2007 Supreme Court New Jersey), Abbey Spanier prevailed in its quest to overturn the trial court's refusal to certify a class of 72,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees who were forced to work off the clock and miss meal breaks. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the trial court and the Appellate Division and remanded the case for entry of an order certifying the class, stating:

'When the organization of a modern society, such as ours affords the possibility of illegal behavior accompanied by widespread, diffuse consequences, some procedural means must exist to remedy – or at least to deter – that conduct.' Here, the class action is just such a procedural device. By equalizing adversaries, we provide access to the courts for small claimants. By denying shelter to an alleged wrongdoing defendant, we deter similar transgressions against an otherwise vulnerable class – 72,000 hourly paid retail workers purportedly harmed by their corporate employer's uniform misconduct. Individually, the aggrieved Wal-Mart employees lack the strength in terms of resources and motivation to assert their grievances in court. Collectively, as a class, they are able to pursue their claims. (Citation omitted).

Following class certification, a settlement was reached providing for injunctive relief and the payment by Wal-Mart of up to $28 million.  On November 17, 2009, the trial court approved the settlement.