Wal-Mart Changes Pay Structure and Raises Wages, But Is the Retailer Serious about Giving Workers a Fairer Share of the Pie?

Wal-Mart recently made headlines by instituting a wave of minimum wage increases in several states. In 2014 alone, retail workers in 13 states saw a bump in base wages. As the nation’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart’s wage increases will impact more than 1,400 stores and likely lead to cascading effects through local economies.

On one hand, Wal-Mart’s moves are clearly in the right direction. On the other hand, critics suggest that the company has not done enough to increase wages. When private employers pay workers less than a living wage, workers often must turn to government assistance. Taxpayers then pick up this bill, essentially subsidizing low-paying private employers.

Wal-Mart says it hopes to simplify its payment systems. It plans to change its pay structure by lumping cashiers, cart pushers, and maintenance workers into one payment class. However, the retailer will also narrow the gap between low-paying and high-paying positions. One Wal-Mart manager explained the company’s reasoning: “Essentially… wage compression at the upper level of the hourly associate is going to help absorb that cost of the wage increase at the lower level.”

As an employee, you want to ensure your employer is treating you fairly. Here are three potential red flags that might warrant the counsel of an experienced New York wage and hour law firm:

  • You’re paid with debit cards. Some employers distribute debit cards instead of offering direct deposit or paychecks. Employees should have a choice. There are fees associated with debit cards that can reduce your paycheck.
  • You believe your employer is violating tip rules. If you work in a restaurant, pay attention to how the tip money is distributed among your co-workers. Are managers or or kitchen staff included in the tip pool? Have other workers complained to you in private about dubious practices?
  • After coming under pressure for underpaying its workers, your employer has suddenly reinvented its payment categories. Pay attention to your workload, job description, and pay scale during times of upheaval. When a company makes a decision to merge pay grades, it could freeze wages or engage in unfair or even illegal tactics.

Call the Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP team today at (212) 688-5640 to discuss your retaliation, harassment, discrimination or wage and hour case.

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