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Matt Singer on October 12, 2006 - 11:41am
Two former Wal-Mart employees won a major victory on behalf of 187,000 Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania state court today, with a jury finding that Wal-Mart violated state labor laws.
Lawyers for the ex-employees, Dolores Hummel and Michelle Braun, claimed Wal-Mart made workers skip more than 33 million rest breaks from 1998 to 2001 to boost productivity and curb labor costs. More than 70 similar wage-and-hour suits have been filed in the U.S. against the Bentonville, Arkansas- based company.Damages could come out to more than $100 million and come on the heels of a nearly $200 million decision last December. It's important to keep this in mind. Wal-Mart shareholders don't just make their profits through productivity gains or through unethically low pay, but also through widespread violations of labor law. Given that other competitors like Costco are able to make money obeying the law and paying decent wages, it's just time that policymakers crack down on corporate criminals like Wal-Mart. It's good for the workers but it's also the only fair thing for competitors who obey the law and shouldn't face unfair competition from Wal-Mart and their ilk.