The New York Times (12/24, B1, Greenhouse, Rosenbloom) reports, “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” and some “lawyers described it as the largest settlement ever for lawsuits over wage violations.” The “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 Tom Mars, Walmart’s general counsel and an executive vice president, said, “Many of these lawsuits were filed years ago, and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today.” The settlement “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.”
Bloomberg News (12/24, Fisk) reports, “The agreement comes five weeks before Mike Duke takes over from outgoing Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott, who has overseen a sales resurgence and sought to burnish Wal-Mart’s image among environmentalists, politicians and labor groups. Wal-Mart may pay from $352 million to $640 million, potentially less than 0.1 percent of its $378.8 billion in revenue in 2008.”
The AP (12/24) reports, “Last year, Wal-Mart said it would pay more than $33 million in back wages to thousands of employees after turning itself in to the Labor Department for paying too little in overtime over the past five years. A judge in Pennsylvania also ruled last year that Wal-Mart workers in that state who previously won a $78.5 million class action award for working off the clock will share an additional $62.3 million in damages.”
News courtesy of the American Association for Justice.