(CN) — A federal judge on Wednesday awarded a former Walmart pharmacist with $27 million in total damages, agreeing that the retail giant routinely denied her work breaks and overtime pay.
The case was originally filed by former Walmart pharmacist Afrouz Nikmanesh in Orange County Superior Court in 2015, but was later moved to the Central District of California.
Nikmanesh said Walmart told her to obtain her immunization certification, which would allow her to provide on-site immunizations to pharmacy patients, but refused to compensate her for the time she spent studying and preparing for the exam. She also claimed that getting the certification increased her workload several times over, but said Walmart refused to provide additional staffing to meet the increased demand.
“In most surveys, pharmacists rank as the 2nd most trusted professionals in America. However, can you really trust an overworked pharmacist that is deprived the opportunity to take a break to recharge before attending to patients’ needs, multiple doctor’s offices, and insurance companies, all while trying to stay within compliance of pharmacy laws and regulations?” asked Nikmanesh in a piece she published in 2015 about the case.
The ruling includes $40,000 for economic losses; $100,000 for non-economic losses; $60,000 for future non-economic losses; and $27.3 million in punitive damages.
In the original complaint, Nikmanesh claimed she was denied overtime wages along with meal and rest breaks, forced to perform work off the clock studying for and taking the immunization certification exam and given inaccurate wage statements that didn’t account for the hours she actually spent working