Reports that Wal-Mart executives may have constructed an elaborate cover-up of bribery in Mexico are just the newest allegations in a long list of legal troubles for the retail behemoth. According to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart has been sued hundreds of times by workers claiming racial, sexual, religious or other bias in pay, promotions, and other treatment. Since 2009, data shows that 358 of 3,044 federal court lawsuits in which Wal-Mart was a plaintiff or defendant involved employment issues. The company has been accused repeatedly of valuing profits over compliance, and this is just the newest of a growing list of improprieties.
In the most recent scandal, it is alleged that executives covered up findings that Wal-Mart de Mexico paid a total of $24 million to corrupt government officials in order to speed up construction of stores in the country. Wal-Mart’s growth in Mexico has been incredible, as it now has over 2,000 stores in the country and is now Mexico’s largest employer. These assertions do not help Wal-Mart’s image as a corporation that will do anything to make money, including taking advantage of employees, customers, and the law. In addition to these bribery claims, there have been widespread claims and lawsuits that Wal-Mart managers systematically deny or cut short rest breaks, forced overtime, and manipulated time cards to reduce pay.
Wal-Mart was recently embroiled in a massive employment discrimination case, Wal-Mart vs. Dukes. In it, 1.5 million female employees claimed that Wal-Mart didn’t have an overarching employment policy and thus gave too much power to local managers, leaving female workers open to discrimination. They argued that these managers “exercise their discretion over pay and promotions disproportionately in favor of men, which has an unlawful disparate impact on female employees; and that Wal-Mart’s refusal to cabin its managers’ authority amounts to disparate treatment.” The Supreme Court ruled the women could not sue jointly, finding that their situations were too diverse to warrant class action status, but these lawsuits are still continuing on a smaller scale.
In March, a warehousing company that subcontracts for Wal-Mart has had a second lawsuit leveled against it for allegedly failing to pay employees for working overtime. It is reported that Schneider Logistics Transloading & Distribution Inc. required workers at multiple warehouse locations to sign waivers giving up their rights to overtime compensation. Wal-Mart released a statement saying "From our standpoint, it is never acceptable for anyone doing work for us to violate the law.”
If you or a loved one believes that you may be being taken advantage of by an employer, you may be eligible to file a wage lawsuit to seek compensation. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced overtime lawyer to see if you might be entitled to receive compensation for unpaid overtime or underpayment.