Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Wal-Mart pays up

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From the NY Times:

Wal-Mart said on Tuesday that it would pay at least $352 million, and possibly far more, to settle lawsuits across the country claiming that it forced employees to work off the clock. Several lawyers described it as the largest settlement ever for lawsuits over wage violations.

After years of being embarrassed by lawsuits over its wage practices, the company agreed to settle 63 cases pending in federal and state courts in 42 states.

The workers and their lawyers will receive at least $352 million, and the payments could reach $640 million, depending on how many claims affected workers submit.

Union critics of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, saw the settlement as proof of their view that the company achieves its low prices in part by cheating workers. But the company rejected that characterization, saying it had already corrected wage practices that it has long attributed to local managers acting without authority.

“Many of these lawsuits were filed years ago, and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today,” Tom Mars, general counsel and executive vice president at Wal-Mart Stores, said.

The newly settled cases involved hundreds of thousands of current and former hourly employees. It is unclear how much the average employee will receive, but the sum could be several hundred dollars.

Several lawyers said that Wal-Mart had reached the settlement to help end an embarrassing chapter as its chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., turns his position over to Michael T. Duke in February.

The dozens of wage-and-hour suits against Wal-Mart accused the company and its managers of various illegal tactics. Those included forcing employees to work unpaid off the clock, erasing hours from time cards and preventing workers from taking lunch and other breaks that were promised by the company or guaranteed by state laws…

Continue reading.  Has the company learned its lesson and will now reform its ways? Certainly not. They continue to driven by a need to reduce costs (including employee pay and benefits) and increase profits. They’ll pay off this time, but nothing has really changed. That company should be unionized.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 December 2008 at 8:27 am

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