Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Damage Phase of Wal-Mart Overtime Class Action Starts in Oregon - And a NYT Surprise

The AP story about the second phase of the Oregon class action suit against Wal-Mart for unpaid overtime gives an inkling of the tough road ahead for Wal-Mart and its counsel. Having long ago served as an appointed special master by the late United States District Judge Hippo Garcia, to hear the damage phase of a Title VII class action, I have some idea of the difficulty of going forward when you have already lost. At least here, as was true when I served as the special master, Wal-Mart is getting a different trier of fact as a new jury has been empaneled. But just from one quote from the opening statement of Wal-Mart's lawyer, "Off the clock is not necessarily evil,'' lets you know it is is not going to be great fun for the employer's side of the table.

What was even more interesting about this link to the NYT business page (registration required) were the advertisements that appeared at the bottom. One was from the law firm of Stueve Helder Siegel, LLP announcing their recently filed collection (sic) action on behalf of stylists and store managers of Regis Corporation's Smart Style Division for unpaid wages and overtime, and another from Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP which describes itself as
one of the leading law firms in the United States that represents only plaintiffs, including employees in class action lawsuits seeking overtime pay and remedies for overtime law violations.
I suppose in today's world there is nothing wrong with it from either the standpoint of the firms or the NYT, both just trying to make a buck where they can. It certainly is a good example of context advertising. But I must say, when I first started practicing labor and employment law in 1975, among the many things I would have never foreseen was that on the business page of the New York Times would be advertisements for firms boasting of their prowess at taking major businesses to task.

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