Wal-Mart Accused of Denying Lunch Breaks

Oakland, Calif., Lawyers representing about 116,000 former and current Wal-Mart Stores employees in California told a jury Monday that the retailer systematically and illegally denied workers lunch breaks. The lawsuit covers former and current employees in California from 2001 to 2005.

The class-action suit in Alameda Superior Court claims that the workers are owed more than $66 million plus interest. Millions of dollars are also being sought to push the company for the alleged wrongdoing.

The case concerns a 2001 state law that is considered one of the nation’s most worker-friendly. It states that employees who work at least six hours must have a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break. If they do not get it, the law requires that they be paid for an additional hour of pay.

Wal-Mart declined to give an opening statement and its lawyers declined comment. In court documents, the company claims that workers did not demand penalty wages on a timely basis. The chain adds that it d