Walmart must pay pharmacist $27.5M for denying her breaks, overtime pay

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The District Court of Central California on Oct. 20 awarded $27.5 million to Afrouz Nikmanesh, PharmD, after she filed a class-action lawsuit against Walmart, her former employer.

Six things to know:

  1. The pharmacist originally filed the case in Orange County Superior Court in 2015. It was later moved to the District Court of Central California, according to Courthouse News Service.

  2. In her complaint, Dr. Nikmanesh said Walmart denied her breaks and overtime wages, gave her inaccurate wage statements and terminated her employment wrongfully. She also said the retail giant forced her to study for and take an immunization certification exam but did not compensate her for this off-the-clock work.

  3. During her time as a Walmart pharmacist, Dr. Nikmanesh drew attention to noncompliance issues, claiming the pharmacy charged Medicare patients above the Medi-Cal reimbursement rate and did not provide eligible beneficiaries with their Medicare discounts. She also said Walmart did not report necessary data to the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, which requires weekly reports to be filed with the state's justice department.

    The lawsuit alleged her 2014 termination was a result of her bringing up these issues.

  4. "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?” Dr. Nikmanesh wrote in a 2015 piece published about her lawsuit.

  5. The court awarded Dr. Nikmanesh with $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.
  6. "Walmart does not tolerate discrimination," a company spokesperson said in a statement sent to Becker's Oct. 25. "We continue to believe that our associates handled Ms. Nikmanesh’s employment consistently and they followed what was required by law. We do not believe the jury’s verdict is supported by the facts and that based on the evidence, no punitive damages should be awarded. We are reviewing our options."

Editor's note: The article was updated at 12:45 p.m. CT to include Walmart's statement.

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