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Kentucky Court of Appeals Reviews Wage Case

Earlier this month, in the unpublished decision of Sparks v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, affirmed a jury verdict dismissing a former Wal-Mart employee’s claims for unpaid wages.

The plaintiff, Sparks, worked as a pharmacist for Wal-Mart from June 1992 through December 2008. He was compensated based on a forty-five hour workweek, or ninety hours each two weeks. In 2006, he sued Wal-Mart alleging that they owed him nearly $30,000.00 in unpaid wages. He made additional claims for retaliation for filing a complaint with the Kentucky Department of Labor.

According to Sparks, Wal-Mart had paid him for only eighty-five hours each two weeks from November 2000 and September 2005. His manager realized the error and started paying Sparks 90 hours biweekly in 2005, but did not retroactively pay the difference in wages. Sparks filed suit for the five hours of unpaid wages during the November 2000 through September 2005 pay periods.

Sparks claimed that the common law theory of equitable estoppel prevented the megastore from now denying him the additional five hours of pay biweekly. Reviewing the elements of equitable estoppel, the court held that Sparks had not proved Wal-Mart had “knowledge, actual or constructive, of the real facts.”

The court also reviewed several evidentiary rulings from the lower court and found in favor of Wal-Mart.

If you believe your employer has failed to properly pay you overtime pay or wages, you should speak to a wage and hour attorney.