Walmart to Pay $33 Million in Back Wages, One Worker To Get $39,000

Walmart has turned itself in to the Labor Department for paying too little in overtime pay over the last 5 years. From MSN:

Steven Mandel, associate solicitor in the U.S. Labor Department’s Fair Labor Standards Division, said the case — involving nearly 87,000 employees nationwide — resulted from Wal-Mart coming to the department in early 2005 and asking for a review of its overtime calculations.

“They had some concern that some of the practices were not in compliance” with federal wage laws, he told a conference call for reporters

“It’s not particularly unusual for an employer to come to us and talk to us about potential payroll violations,” Mandel said.

But Mandel said the overtime settlement was one of the largest ever reached by the department’s wage and hour division….

The settlement was approved Thursday by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for western Arkansas, Mandel said.

The highest award to an individual employee was about $39,000, he said.

Last October, workers in Pennsylvania sued over working through breaks and off the clock and were awarded $78 million. Walmart is appealing that judgment. —MEGHANN MARCO

Walmart to Pay $33mil in OT Case [MSN]

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  1. shoegazer says:

    Er, Wal-Mart “turned itself in”? Do they want a medal or something? It’s salary they legally owe their employees back dated by 5 to 7 years. I also love the self-congratulatory, “We also overpaid some of you, but don’t worry, we WON’T be asking it back” tone.

  2. Kornkob says:

    *shrug* I don’t see anywhere that Walmart is doing anything wrong here. I didn’t even see any indication that they were making a big deal out of this.

    I’ve worked at places that did this and the motivation is pretty clear: if you realize you’ve f-ed up your overtime calcs (or other violations in payroll or even health and safety related) and you go to the state and ask for help resolving it, the fines are going to be much lower (or non-existant) than if someone reports you and the state comes looking for your books.

  3. Falconfire says:

    I have a feeling “turned itself in” is a nice way of saying “either admit your faults, or we will do it for you in a very bloody and showy trial that will make people ever think of working or shopping for you again”

  4. kerry says:

    I think the most newsworthy thing is that someone did see that their payroll was screwing employees and, rather than mount a massive coverup, decided to come clean and get it sorted out properly. For once it looks like at least part of Wal-Mart appreciates its employees.

  5. Greeper says:

    If you turn yourself in, you can mitigate statutory double damages and possibly attorney’s fees. Furthermore, you cannot settle wage and hour claims with employees without DOL approval (or the settlement is void). So self disclosure has some upsides and is really required anyway. Finally, this area of law is very mushy and it’s likely that they are admitting to errors (probably in classifying employees exempt or nonexempt and/or meal/rest period violations) where there is a good argument they aren’t in violation. It’s a way of avoiding costly and long battles and getting closure once and for all on the issue. (I do this for a living but have nothing to do with WalMart or this casse).

  6. Greeper says:

    If you turn yourself in, you can mitigate statutory double damages and possibly some attorney’s fees. Furthermore, you cannot settle wage and hour claims with employees without DOL approval (or the settlement is void). So self disclosure has some upsides and is really required anyway. Finally, this area of law is very mushy and it’s likely that they are admitting to errors (probably in classifying employees exempt or nonexempt and/or meal/rest period violations) where there is a good argument they aren’t in violation. It’s a way of avoiding costly and long battles and getting closure once and for all on the issue. (I do this for a living but have nothing to do with WalMart or this casse).

  7. pronell says:

    I’ll give Wal-Mart partial credit here. I’ve heard stories for many years of their problems with forcing their employees to work unpaid overtime and even locking their overnight cleaning and restocking workers IN the store.

    In the past there has been only one reason I have gone to Wal-Mart, and that was for a particular brand of toothpaste I couldn’t find elsewhere and did not want to buy a case at a time online. The brand is Tom’s of Maine, and since they were bought by Colgate I have less of a problem finding it elsewhere.

    And like I said, I’ll give them partial credit. I really do appreciate when a company takes voluntary measures to improve conditions for their workers, customers, or suppliers.. and Wal-Mart has a long, long way to go on this. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that $33 million is the tip of the iceberg, given the scale of their economy.

    Even if, as others have stated, there is direct financial interest in the form of reduced fines, I like to see a company come to the table and play honestly.

    And in the case of this company, I’d like to see a lot more of it.