California law, like the laws in many other states, requires employees to give a minimum of 30 minutes unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours. Several California workers claim Wal-Mart illegally demanded these breaks be skipped (and of course, in the process, save a bundle of money either by working employees through these unpaid breaks or by recognizing more benefit from their cheap labor pool.

Wal-Mart says the employees voluntarily skipped the lunch breaks. A class action suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court and the case went to trial. Who was right? On 12/22/05, the California jury awarded $207 million to 116,000 current and ex-employees at Wal-Mart stores. A similar lawsuit was settled during 2004 in Colorado for $50 million.

Wal-Mart currently has over 40 lawsuits outstanding in the United States, alleging workplace violations by Wal-Mart. The California law suit mentioned above, brought about over 4 years of wrangling by Wal-Mart before the lawsuit made it to trial.