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Walmart: Save Money, Live...Better? by Tyler Pyle

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Walmart: Save Money, Live...Better? by
Article Posted: 02/17/2014
Article Views: 196
Articles Written: 2
Word Count: 924
Article Votes: 1
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Walmart: Save Money, Live...Better?

Business,Business News,Law
Walmart, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, was founded by Sam Walton in 1962. Although it is the world’s second largest public corporation (Fortune Global 500), the largest private employer, and the largest grocery retailer in the world, the company is still family-owned and controlled by the Walton family, who owns over 50% of Walmart (Walmart – Wikipedia, n.d.). In the United States, there are 3,275 Walmart Supercenters, 510 Walmart discount stores, 333 Walmart Neighborhood Markets, and 59 Walmart small formats, a total of 4,177 total units (Unit Count & Square Footage, 2013). At the end of fiscal year 2013, Walmart and its subsidiaries employed approximately 2.2 million associates worldwide, with approximately 1.3 million associates in the United States. Walmart serves more than 245 million customers and members weekly worldwide (Investor FAQs, n.d.). Walmart’s mission statement is, “We save people money so they can live better,” but what about the quality of life for their employees? Of its 2.2 million employees worldwide, many associates of Walmart have been treated unfairly and unethically in the workplace. Workers have had to endure low wages, discrimination, denied overtime pay, and many other wrongdoings that no employee should have to tolerate. In 2001, Walmart Sales Clerks made $8.23 per hour, or $13,861 a year. That is below the federal poverty line for a family of three ($14,630). Sam Walton once said, “I pay low wages. I can take advantage of that. We’re going to be successful, but the basis is a very low-wage, low-benefit model of employment” (Criticism of Walmart – Wikipedia, n.d.). On Walmart’s website, under the “Careers” section, the site says, “Our associates are the heart of our business” (Working at Walmart, n.d.). Not paying employees a living wage doesn’t prove Walmart’s appreciation of its associates. In 2005, Fox News interviewed Walmart’s then-CEO, Lee Scott, who said, “The truth is our wages are really competitive and they’re good.” During that timeframe, Mr. Scott was making $17.5M per year. That’s $8,434 an hour…all while many Walmart employees are not even making above the poverty line (Wal-Mart mistreats employees, environment, local economy, 2006). It has been said that Costco pays their employees 65% more than Walmart (At Wal-Mart, Choosing Sides Over $9.68 an Hour, 2005). Discrimination within the company is clearly evident. Several multimillion dollar discrimination lawsuits have arisen over the past decade or so, including claims filed in California, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, and Wisconsin. Women make up 92% of the total number of cashiers, but only 14% of store managers. In 2001, female hourly workers were paid $1,100 less per year than males and women in management were paid $14,500 less per year than their male co-workers. In Dukes v. Walmart, the largest class action gender discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history, 1.5 million female employees accused Walmart of discrimination in promotions, pay, and job assignments. The case included 120 Affidavits relating to 235 Walmart stores. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that “even if every single one of these accounts is true, that would not demonstrate that the entire company operates under a general policy of discrimination.” Now, many of the Plaintiffs are filing smaller suits against the corporation (Walmart and Sex Discrimination, 2006). Every full time employee should be allowed certain rights, such as breaks throughout the work day, including a lunch break. However, many Walmart employees were not given any. In December of 2005, a California jury awarded $172M to thousands of employees of Walmart who claimed they were illegally denied lunch breaks. Walmart was ordered to pay $57M in general damages and $115M in punitive damages to approximately 116,000 current and former California Walmart employees for violating a 2001 California state law that requires all employers to give all employees that work at least six hours a 30 minute, unpaid lunch break. Paul Blank, Campaign Director for, said, “It is a sad day when Walmart provides these so-called low prices by exploiting their workers and even the law” (No Breaks? Pay $172M, jury says, 2005). In May of 2012, the Department of Labor announced that Walmart agreed to pay $4.83M in back wages and damages to employees it had illegally denied overtime. Over 4,000 workers received money from the settlement. According to the Labor Department, Walmart failed to pay overtime to certain employees, considered them exempt from overtime requirements when they were non-exempt. This particular settlement involved employees serving in the roles of Asset Protection Coordinator and vision Center Manager (Walmart Fined By Labor Department For Denying Workers Overtime Pay, Agrees To Pay $4.8 Million In Back Wages, 2012). There are many ethical issues at hand within Walmart. One would think with the plentiful resources and assets that the retail giant has, they would put forth more effort to become a more ethical company, treat their employees with fairness by providing them with a comfortable work environment and a suitable living wage. On Walmart’s website for their ethics, they state, “We are committed to complying fully with all applicable laws and regulations dealing with wage-and-hour issues, including off-the-clock work, meal and rest breaks, overtime pay…” (Wage and Hour, n.d.). Yet, thousands of workers have had to deal with each of those things they boast that they are committed to complying with. The top executives making millions upon millions of dollars per year are standing by Walmart’s slogan, at least for their own selves, by not paying a suitable living wage and living the life of luxury; “Save Money. Live Better.”


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