Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wal-Mart Loses Appeal (no pun intended)

You've surely seen the commercials: A well-groomed, articulate and likable fellow explains how he decided against a corporate job in order to move up through the ranks at Wal-Mart from stockboy to manager. A frank-speaking, earnest young woman describes the pride she takes in her work, and her choice to pursue a career path on the floor of a Wal-Mart. They articulate what a wonderful employer Wal-Mart is, how they could't want better.

Have you filled out your application yet? No? Apparently, the Appellate Court of Pennsylvania wasn't buying it either. Wal-Mart just lost its appeal of the 2006 ruling that awarded $187.6 million to workers who had been denied meal and rest breaks in order to boost store productivity and profits, in violation of appropriate labor practices.

The judgment may be reduced slightly, but only to adjust for legal fees that had been double-counted.

It seems Wal-Mart must do more than damage-control -- it must pay damages. Hefty damages. I'm glad to see it. At what point will companies finally understand that their profits should reflect the quality both of their products AND of their employment practices? Wal-Mart wants to be an example of successful business practices. It's going to be made an example of, all right. But I don't think this is exactly what Corporate had in mind. They'd have been better off saving the money on the commercials and treating their employees with decency. They'd have broken even on the commercials...but would have been far ahead in public opinion. Never mind the karma that comes of not taking advantage of the disenfranchised.
-Jack Simony

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