Wal-Mart Settles 63 Wage and Hour Lawsuits

Ending years of litigation and apparently clearing the decks for new CEO Mike Duke, 58, to succeed Lee Scott effective Feb. 1, 2009, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced Dec. 23 that it has settled 63 class-action wage and hour lawsuits for payments that will total at least $352 million and no more than $640 million. The cases allege the company routinely underpaid workers and shortchanged them on break time.

Wal-Mart said the amounts it will pay depend on the amount of claims that are submitted by class members. As with a similar settlement the company announced of a major Minnesota case earlier this month, Wal-Mart said it agreed in these settlements to continue to use "various electronic systems and other measures designed to maintain compliance with its wage and hour policies and applicable law."

"Resolving this litigation is in the best interest of our company, our shareholders, and our associates," said Tom Mars, executive vice president and general counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "Many of these lawsuits were filed years ago, and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today. Our policy is to pay associates for every hour worked and to provide rest and meal breaks. This is a commitment we make to the more than 1.4 million associates who choose to work for Wal-Mart and serve our customers and members every day. We have worked hard to have the right communication, processes, and systems in place to help us live up to this commitment.”

"We are pleased with this settlement and believe it is fair and reasonable for our clients. We are equally pleased that Wal-Mart has made tremendous strides in wage and hour compliance and that it has implemented and agreed to continue to follow state of the art compliance programs so that these improvements will continue into the future. We hope Wal-Mart's compliance programs will serve as an example to other major retailers," said Frank Azar of the Aurora, Colo., law firm Franklin D. Azar & Associates, P.C., co-lead plaintiffs' counsel for cases in 14 states.

A list of the 63 cases is available at this site.

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