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Sandy Knauer

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Blogs by Sandy Knauer

Did the Punishment Fit the Crime?
3/19/2005 12:18:39 AM    [ Flag as Spam or Inappropriate ]

Where’s the justice, or the lesson learned?

Punishment Fit the Crime?

So Walmart “agreed” to pay eleven million in fines for using illegal residents seven days a week and not paying them overtime. Eleven million – twenty-two minutes worth of profit. I’m having a hard time deciding how this might compare to the nineteen hours an average Walmart employee would have to work to pay the average traffic ticket, not that I think speeding compares in any way to abusing humans. Where’s the justice, or the lesson learned?

Obviously, Walmart isn’t about learning lessons. None of this seemed to make much difference:

Wal-Mart faces 38 state and federal lawsuits filed by hourly workers in 30 states, accusing the company of systematically forcing them to work long hours off the clock. A July 2000 internal audit of 128 Wal-Mart stores found 127 were "not in compliance" with company policies concerning workers not taking breaks. The audit found workers nationwide didn’t take breaks 76,472 times in a one-week period.

On December 19, 2002, a Portland jury issued its unanimous verdict that Wal-Mart violated federal and state wage-and-hour laws by forcing employees at 18 Oregon stores to work overtime without pay from 1994 to 1999.

In a class-action suit in Texas, on behalf of more than 200,000 current and former Wal-Mart workers, statisticians estimate that the company underpaid its Texas workers by $150 million over four years by not paying them for the many times they worked during their daily 15-minute breaks. (NYT, 6/02)

Wal-Mart settled a suit in Colorado in 2000, reportedly for $50 million to 69,000 current and former Wal-Mart hourly workers. The terms of the settlement were confidential, and the company will say only that the actual amount is far less than has been reported.

More than 8,000 pharmacists filed a class-action lawsuit in August 2002, charging that Wal-Mart owes them $200 million in pay for "off the clock" work.

On May 31, 2003, a "tentative agreement" was reached between Wal-Mart and hundreds of pharmacists suing the discount retailer for nearly $45 million in damages. A judge had already ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, in a 1999 summary judgment, that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had violated labor laws by not paying its pharmacists overtime and shorting their paychecks for two years. The agreement overrides a trial that was set to decide the dollar amount of damages for the underpaid pharmacists. The case was filed in 1995 on behalf of four Colorado pharmacists and grew to 596, who alleged they had routinely worked "off the clock" for Wal-Mart doing paperwork and other chores. Typically, their work lasted 60 hours, not the 40 hours indicated on Wal-Mart's records, according to the complaint. They allege Wal-Mart's failure to pay them overtime compensation - by improperly classifying them as salaried workers - was willful and that the retailer intentionally shortchanged its employees.

Indiana is one of the first states to allow a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores over its labor practices. Any hourly employee who worked at an Indiana Wal-Mart or Sam's Club from Aug. 1, 1998, to the present can join the suit. Wal-Mart is the largest nongovernmental employer in Indiana. For the three Indiana stores reviewed in the internal audit, workers skipped breaks 1,699 times, according to the court record.

http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/fact_sheets_and_backgrounder/walmart/wages.cfm



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More Blogs by Sandy Knauer
• No Resolutions Here - Friday, January 04, 2008
• Link to flagged article - Thursday, March 15, 2007
• God Does Make Garbage - And Other Annoying News - Friday, February 09, 2007
• Action Alert: AFA at it again - Wednesday, January 24, 2007
• Kid-free Zone - Sunday, December 10, 2006
• He Deserves Better - Saturday, September 30, 2006
• Glasses or Stage? - Wednesday, August 16, 2006
• A Walk With My Real Mother - Friday, August 11, 2006
• Al Gore and My High School Reunion - Thursday, July 06, 2006
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• And Not So Great First Dates - Sunday, June 25, 2006
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• Happy Father's Day For Me - Saturday, June 17, 2006
• We Don't Share Crayons - Friday, June 16, 2006
• Roly-poly Slobber - Monday, June 12, 2006
• John Wayne and Elvis Were Full of Shit and You Probably Are Too - Monday, June 05, 2006
• Ignorance Is Bliss - Monday, May 29, 2006
• Let It Be - Thursday, April 27, 2006
• Can We Leave Justice to the Luck of the Draw? - Friday, April 14, 2006
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• Healthcare Costs – How We Turn Molehills into Mountains - Tuesday, March 28, 2006
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• HUH? - Tuesday, February 21, 2006
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