Pharmacist wins round in Walmart fight

June 22, 2015

The lawsuit gained new life recently when Guilford denied Walmart’s motion to dismiss it, ruling Nikmanesh had sufficiently addressed the factual allegation deficiencies in an amended complaint.

Earlier this year, California pharmacist Afrouz Nikmanesh’s proposed class-action lawsuit against Walmart suffered a major blow when a judge dismissed most of her claims.

Why I filed a class action lawsuit against Walmart

In dismissing most of Nikmanesh’s claims, U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford in April ruled that the lawsuit “lacked sufficient factual allegations” to support claims that Walmart cheated pharmacists out of work breaks, overtime pay, and did not compensate pharmacists for time spent studying for and completing immunization-training programs.

Judge Guilford, in fact, called Nikmanesh assertion that an employer must pay for any and all activities related to its employees’ jobs “absurd.” Nikmanesh worked as a Walmart pharmacist from November 2003 through September 2014.

However, the lawsuit gained new life recently when Guilford denied Walmart’s motion to dismiss it, ruling Nikmanesh had sufficiently addressed the factual allegation deficiencies in an amended complaint.

In denying the motion to dismiss, Guilford ruled that Nikmanesh subsequently provided sufficient factual allegations to show that the immunization training courses were directly related to pharmacists’ jobs. “Certification didn’t merely prepare employees for advancement, but rather gave them additional skills to use in their existing roles-skills that resulted in Walmart making more money.”

 

Guilford also ruled there was sufficient evidence that the training was not voluntary. “Plaintiffs allege that they faced the threat of reduced hours or even a transfer to another pharmacy if they failed to take the training course,” Guilford wrote. “Taking these allegations as true, the training course was not voluntary.”

On the issue of Walmart failing to provide rest breaks for pharmacists, Guilford wrote: “Plaintiffs allege that Walmart not only prohibited them from leaving pharmacies unattended, but also discouraged them from closing the pharmacies and failed to provide coverage for breaks. The combination of these allegations, taken as true, sufficiently states a claim for failure to provide rest breaks.”

Guilford said Nikmanesh’s complaint sufficiently details Walmart’s combination of policies and practices that allegedly deprived pharmacists of rest breaks.

The judge withheld judgment on whether Nikmanesh’s lawsuit should be certified as a class action. “The arguments raised by Walmart [to strike the class allegations] are better raised at the class certification stage,” Guilford wrote.