We're coming to you today from the Department of Outrageous Demands. The DoOD is a wholly owned subsidy of the Think What You'll Do To My Dividend Corporation in partnership with 65 Billion Just Doesn't Buy What It Used To, LLC.
It seems the boys of Mordor are once again to be punished for innovative and forward looking business management practices.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has agreed to pay $40 million to as many as 87,500 current and former employees in Massachusetts, the largest wage-and-hour class-action settlement in the state’s history.
Oh crap. Is this about the wimminz again?
The class-action lawsuit, filed in 2001, accused the retailer of denying workers rest and meal breaks, refusing to pay overtime, and manipulating time cards to lower employees’ pay.
Or what is known in the Wal-Mart Store Manager Training Manual, as Standard Operating Procedure.
“The magnitude is large - it’s bigger than most settlements paid in wage-and-hour cases,’’ said Justin M. Swartz of New York-based law firm Outten & Golden LLP, who has handled similar cases, including a pending case against Wal-Mart.
Wait, Wal-Mart just lost a case that resulted in the largest payout in the state's history, and there is still another case waiting to be decided? "Yeah," said Swartz. "Wal-Mart is kind of my 401k. I'll be collecting off them about as long as they keep trying to pay people with Froot Loops."
Under the terms of the settlement, neither side is allowed to comment. But in an affidavit filed with the settlement, the lead counsel for the employees, Philip Gordon of Boston’s Gordon Law Group, said, "We've pretty much given up trying to get them to wrap their heads around the idea of a 'living wage', now we'd just like to get them to grasp the concept of 'wage.'"
“For many employers, this settlement will serve as a reminder to take the payment of earned wages and benefits seriously." Gordon wrote in the affidavit. "For Wal-Mart it's a few more bucks out of the petty cash drawer, then back to business as usual."
This isn’t the first wage case settlement against Wal-Mart in Massachusetts. In September, the retailer settled an investigation of violations of state meal-break policies, agreeing to pay $3 million. "Pay 'em, feed 'em, treat their boo boos. What do you want from us? We're they're employer, not their mommy," said one Wal-Mart spokesperson.
Workers approached yesterday by The Boston Globe at a Wal-Mart parking lot in Raynham declined to comment on the settlement, pointing to the security cameras mounted on the building. "Later, one Wal-Mart employee met a reporter in a restaurant and wanted to know if "You're gonna eat those fries?"
Sean Blais, who worked at a Wal-Mart in Weymouth for a year before he was fired for drinking water at work, said he thought the accord “seems reasonable.’’ Blais, 19, said while he did not notice any discrepancies in his pay, he routinely had trouble scheduling breaks during his shift. You got a 15-minute, unpaid break, but you usually had to fight to get it,’’ he said.
When asked to explain 'fight to get it' he took the reporter around to the back of the store and showed him a large pen containing several pit bulls.
David Reis, chairman of law firm Howard Rice’s labor and employment practice in San Francisco, said Wal-Mart has probably already addressed the alleged practices in the suit. “Given that this suit was filed more than eight years ago, I would expect that any alleged suspect pay practices have been remedied by Wal-Mart long ago," said Reis. "Of course I also believe that rainbow unicorns tell me magic stories when I'm sleeping."