Wal-Mart Must Pay Out $33 Million for Overtime Violations

JANUARY 26, 2007 - Posted at 8:06 a.m. CST

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Bentonville-based Wal-Mart will pay $33 million in back wages for paying too little in overtime to nearly 87,000 employees. The payment is from an agreement announced yesterday by the U.S. Labor Department.

Steven Mandel of the Labor Department's Fair Labor Standards Division says the case was the result of Wal-Mart coming to the department in early 2005 and asking for a review of its overtime calculations.

Mandel says the settlement was one of the largest ever reached by the department's wage and hour division.

He says the Labor Department carried out a national review of all Wal-Mart stores over a two-year period from February 2005 to this year.

Mandel says the settlement was approved yesterday by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for Western Arkansas.

The department says the highest award to an individual employee was about $39,000.

Wal-Mart said in a statement that the settlement includes no fines or penalties and that it has adopted measures to prevent the errors from occurring again.

Also, Wal-Mart says the department's review of its overtime calculations found it had overpaid about 215,000 hourly workers during the last five years. The company says it will not seek to recover any overpayments.

Separately, California's Labor Commissioner filed suit against Wal-Mart for the share of overtime shortfalls that state. The commissioner's office said in a statement that Wal-Mart had also voluntarily notified it of the problem and was working with the commissioner.

But unlike the federal government, California has not reached a settlement, said Robert Jones, acting state labor commissioner. He said that will depend on state auditors verifying the accounting records relied upon by the Labor Department and an examination of additional records relating to more stringent California statutes.

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