Wal-Mart has agreed to pay up to US$54.25m to settle a class action lawsuit bought against the US retail giant by Minnesota hourly employees who claimed they were denied breaks and forced to work off the clock.

The settlement includes roughly 100,000 current and former employees who worked at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in Minnesota between 11 September 1998 and 14 November 2008, the company said in a joint statement with the plaintiffs' attorneys today (9 December).

Wal-Mart has also agreed to maintain electronic systems, surveys, and notices in order to comply with wage and hour policies and Minnesota state labour regulations.

In July, a Minnesota District Court Judge ruled that Wal-Mart owed $6.5m to current and former employees. The company was also facing a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation. Delivering his ruling, the judge cited more than 2m violations.

The settlement is subject to court approval. The exact amount paid to each employee will depend on the number of claims that are submitted by class members.

"Our policies are to pay every associate for every hour worked and to make rest and meal breaks available for associates. Any manager who violates these policies is subject to discipline, up to and including termination. We remain committed to providing good jobs with real career opportunity to the 1.45m US associates who choose to work for Wal-Mart and serve our customers every day," Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said.