According to a December 24, 2008
story in The Associated Press, the discount retail giant Wal-Mart has been
ordered to pay out well over half a billion dollars to settle dozens of
lawsuits for violations of Wage and Hour laws.
This settlement marks the
culmination of years of legal wars between Wal-Mart and its employees.
Wal-Mart’s alleged violations have been documented in countless newspaper
articles, magazine stories, books, and even a documentary movie (Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Prices).
Allegations against the company have included:
- Failing to pay employees for over time.
- Forcing employees to do work “off the clock.”
- Illegally withholding benefits.
- Failing to give meal and rest breaks to workers.
- Putting workers in dangerous situations.
In a spectacular example of the
perils Wal-Mart employees have faced, last year an employee was literally
trampled to death by customers stampeding to take advantage of an early morning
clearance sale on electronics. This tragedy stirred even the most apathetic and
Wal-Mart friendly media to demand better treatment for workers.
Now that the Bentonville, Arkansas
based firm has been ordered to remunerate employees on this massive scale,
hopefully the company will be motivated to modify its corporate culture to
avoid future Wage and Hour violations.