It took an investigation by three separate divisions of the government to finally give Walmart a taste of its own medicine and although the fine is not even a blip on the company’s radar at last it sends a PR message to the megastore. Treat your employees better!
This Tuesday, the Department of Labor announced that Walmart agreed to pay $4.83 million in back wages and damages to employees it had illegally denied overtime. The agreement follows a multi-year investigation into Walmart’s labor practices. More than 4,000 workers, all vision center managers or asset protection coordinators, will receive money from the settlement.
Nancy J. Leppink, deputy administrator of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, said in a statement released right after the agreement was announced,
“Thousands of employees will see money put back into their pockets that should have been there all along,”
Add that to Walmart’s woes. The company is being investigated by the Justice Department and Congress for bribing Mexican officials to open stores all over the country.
All U.S. workers are entitled to overtime if they put in more than 40 hours a week, certain salaried managers are exempted form the laws. Before 2007 Walmart considered its vision center managers and asset protection coordinators exempt. The Department of Labor called the mistake a misclassification.
A Walmart spokesman said in an e-mailed statement,
“When the issues resolved today were initially raised, we took them seriously and fully cooperated with the Department of Labor to make sure they were corrected in 2007. We adjusted our pay practices at that time and determined that back wages should be paid for the associates involved. We have agreed on a fair settlement amount for the associates that trained for the role of Asset Protection Coordinator (APC) and associates in the role of Vision Center Manager (VCM), and we are pleased to have resolved this matter,”
In 2008, the company agreed to pay as much as $640 million to settle 63 federal and state class actions suits. The class actions alleged that Walmart systematically denied their employees overtime in order to profit.