Walmart made headline-stealing the news shortly before Christmas, when its CEO announced that the company would end its minimum wage payments. Of course, they referred to protesters’ calls for a $15 an hour wage as “silly.” In recent years, the company has found itself in almost perpetual legal trouble and while their largely symbolic wage announcement publicity stunt deflects some of the attention, there’s still no ignoring Walmart’s continued corporation transgressions.
The nation’s largest employer was once again in hot water in December–this time over employee compensation. This time around, a Pennsylvania court ruled that Walmart forced many employees to work without full pay and without proper breaks for meals and rest. About 187,000 Pennsylvania employees who worked between the years 1998 and 2006 are now owed a rough average of $1,000 each.
In the weeks leading up to this ruling, Walmart was involved in another round of litigation concerning a different case. On Dec. 9 2014, a judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Californian store managers punished and threatened employees who were organizing a union.” “If it were up to me, I’d shoot the union,” one manager told workers.
Walmart has a stunningly blemished corporate ethos and litigious history. Approximately 5,000 lawsuits are filed against them every year. It has a documented history of health care neglect, wage law violations, worker exploitation, anti-union measures, and even gender discrimination. Some of these violations are discussed in film Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, which was so damning in its indictment of the corporation that Walmart assembled a “rapid-response public relations team” and eventually created an advocacy group called Working Families for Wal-Mart.
Walmart’s Violation of the FCPA
In 2012, Walmart disclosed possible violations in Mexico to the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission. The New York Times reported in 2012 that the retailer paid $24 million in alleged bribes in Mexico. The probe expanded to other countries, including China, India and Brazil. The bribes allegedly pertained to opening stores in these countries. This case is still being investigated and Walmart has paid $439 million in the past two years to investigate its own possible bribes. It is one of the most expensive probes in U.S. history.
“It’s relatively safe to assume that this is one of the highest pre-enforcement-action professional fees and expenses ever reported,” said Michael Koehler, a law professor at Southern Illinois University.
Another corporate train off the tracks and flailing through the lawless U.S. business landscape.