PORTLAND, Ore. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday it will pay as much as $640-million to settle 63 lawsuits that accused it of forcing employees to work off the clock and go without meal and rest breaks, ending years of dispute.
The discount retailer, which has more than 1.4-million employees, said the amount it pays will depend on how many claims are submitted by eligible workers and could range from $352-million to $640-million. It is unclear how much the average employee will receive, but the sum could be several hundred dollars.
The agreement the company announced Tuesday ends the vast majority of such cases against Wal-Mart. Each settlement still must be approved by a trial court.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based company said many of the settled lawsuits were filed years ago and the allegations are not representative of the company Wal-Mart is today.
"Our policy is to pay associates for every hour worked and to provide rest and meal breaks," Tom Mars, Wal-Mart's executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.
The company declined to discuss the case further. Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not return calls for comments Tuesday.