WASHINGTON — Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to pay $4.8 million in back wages and damages to more than 4,500 employees nationwide following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime provisions. Additionally, Wal-Mart will pay $463,815 in civil fines.
The violations affected current and former vision center managers and asset protection coordinators at its stores nationwide. Wal-Mart failed to compensate these employees with overtime pay, considering them to be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. The Labor Department’s investigation found that the employees are nonexempt and consequently due overtime pay for any hours worked beyond 40 in a week.
“Misclassification of employees as exempt from FLSA coverage is a costly problem with adverse consequences for employees and corporations,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement. “Let this be a signal to other companies that when violations are found, the Labor Department will take appropriate action to ensure that workers receive the wages they have earned.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay all back wages the department determined are owed for the violations plus an equal amount in liquidated damages to the employees. Wal-Mart, which operates more than 3,900 establishments in the United States, corrected its classification practices for these workers in 2007, and negotiation over the back pay issues has been ongoing since that time. A third-party administrator will disburse the payments to the affected employees.