United States Department of Labor Holds Wal-Mart Accountable

Wal-Mart Stores will pay its workers $4.8 million in back wages and damages in a settlement with the United States Labor Department ("USDOL") for alleged violations of federal overtime laws, and an additional $464,000 in civil penalties.   

Wal-Mart misclassified "vision center managers" and "asset protection coordinators" at Wal-Mart Discount Stores, Wal-Mart Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club warehouses, as exempt from overtime pay. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for individuals employed in bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales positions, as well as certain computer employees. But to qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status.  In order for an exemption to apply, an employee's specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the regulations.

The head of the USDOL wage and hour division, said she hoped the case would put other employers on notice that they could not avoid paying overtime by improperly classifying their workers as exempt.

"Misclassification of employees as exempt from FLSA coverage is a costly problem with adverse consequences for employees and corporations," said USDOL Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, appointed by President Obama. "Let this be a signal to other companies that when violations are found, the Labor Department will take appropriate action to ensure that workers receive the wages they have earned."

For more information on the USDOL and Hilda Solis go to: http://www.dol.gov/index.htm

See also http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hilda-l-solis/gIQA59lg9O_topic.html: "A former four-term California congresswoman, Solis is President Obama's Labor secretary.  An opponent of free trade, she is a pro-union voice in the cabinet and also one of the Obama administration's top Hispanic officials.  Solis' legislative record is pro-worker, pro-woman and pro-environment."

Lisl Duncan

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