California Walmart truck drivers see victory in lawsuit over compensation

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's a victory that's been 11 years in the making.

After spending more than a decade in court, a little more than 800 California Walmart truck drivers will be getting compensation for unpaid work in the form of $73 million.

"Walmart was not complying with the law in California," says Attorney Lawrence Artenian. "It may have been okay in some other places, but not here.

The lawsuit was filed in 2008 on behalf of every Walmart truck driver in the state.

Artenian is representing the drivers, saying they weren't getting paid for mandatory safety inspections, rest breaks and a slew of other things.

The biggest dispute in the case was layovers.

"After a certain number of hours of driving, a driver must stop the truck and can't drive for ten hours, and that's called a layover," Artenian said.

According to Artenian, Walmart did not allow its drivers to leave their trucks during that 10-hour period, and they weren't getting paid.

California law dictates since they were under the control of their employer during layovers, they needed to be compensated.

"That didn't matter if they were close enough to home or to a relatives or a friend's house where they could go spend the night," Artenian said. "They were required to remain with the truck."

According to Artenian, Walmart's counter-argument was that its employees were well compensated.

In the end, their argument wasn't strong enough to hold in court.

Now those who drove for the company between October 2004 until the end of 2015 may soon be seeing a big payout.

If there are no petitions for rehearings, then lawyers will return to federal court to decide how the money will be distributed.

Payouts will be based on how long employees drove for the company.
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