NELA Amicus Brief: Braun v. Wal-Mart (Penn. S.Ct.)

Posted By: Rebecca Hamburg Cappy February 04, 2013 6:27 pm
Posted In: NELA Amicus Briefs
Tags/Keywords:
Topic : Class and Collective Actions, Trial Advocacy, Wage Hour  Keyword : WalMart

Description

On January 22, 2013, NELA joined the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as amici curiae in support of a class of workers seeking to recover paid rest breaks and payment owed for off the clock work from their employer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Wal-Mart). Amici ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to affirm the lower court’s decision upholding the jury verdict in favor of thousands of Wal-Mart employees in Pennsylvania who were unlawfully denied rest breaks and consistently subjected to other wage and hour violations. See Braun v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 24 A.3d 875 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2011). 
Amici specifically address issues that are of paramount importance to workers and working families, including ensuring that (1) workers may continue to introduce their employers’ business records as admissible evidence to prove their claims and damages, (2) employers will not be rewarded for failing to keep accurate employment records, (3) workers and all other parties may continue to use statistical evidence to prove liability and damages in class actions, and (4) workers can still rely upon the Commonwealth’s express public policy against the waiver of workers’ wages and benefits.  Wal-Mart argues that the Trial Court presided over a “Trial by Formula” in which ordinary procedures for proving liability and damages were allegedly disregarded. Plaintiffs, however, supported both class certification and the verdict with a range of evidence—including voluminous documents and testimony about Wal-Mart’s corporate practices, Wal-Mart’s own business records, and expert analyses of those business records—that is commonly used to establish liability and damages in class cases in all areas of the law. We argue that Wal-Mart’s one-sided approach would prevent workers from accessing the courts to vindicate basic and long-established rights and would undermine a Pennsylvania economy that relies upon the rule of law and effective law enforcement. Here, workers who were harmed by the same practice of the same major employer in the Commonwealth should be able to obtain redress in a collective fashion.  Further, amici make the case that Wal-Mart should not be provided with a competitive advantage over its competitors who choose to comply with the law and keep their promises.

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