Wal-Mart must pay workers $172m

The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has been ordered to pay $172m (£99m) in compensation to workers who were refused lunch breaks.

A California court found Wal-Mart broke a state law requiring employers to give staff an unpaid 30-minute lunch break if they worked more than six hours.

More than 100,000 Wal-Mart employees in California will be eligible for compensation.

The company said in a statement that it would appeal against the decision.

“We absolutely disagree with their findings,” company lawyer Neal Manne told the Associated Press news agency of the jury’s verdict.

It ordered Wal-Mart to pay $57m in general damages and $115m in punitive damages.

From 2001, state law called for shift workers to get meal breaks or be compensated with extra pay. Wal-Mart workers got neither, the lawsuit charged.

“We are very satisfied,” said Chris Lebsock, one of the lawyers representing Wal-Mart workers.

Wal-Mart stores are popular for their low prices, but critics accuse them of achieving success by denying workers’ rights.

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