Wal-Mart To Settle Class Action Lawsuits

Wal-Mart says it has settled 63 wage- and hour-abuse lawsuits against the company. The world's largest retailer says the total to be paid depends on the amount of claims submitted by class members, but it could be up to $640 million.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay up to $640 million to settle dozens of class-actions suits alleging the company violated pay and overtime laws. NPR's Wendy Kaufman has more.

WENDY KAUFMAN: The settlements, announced late yesterday, resolve litigation in most of the Wal-Mart wage and hour cases pending around the country. Attorney Beth Terrell, who represents Wal-Mart workers in Washington State, says the class-action suits allege the retailer didn't pay employees for all the hours they worked.

BETH TERRELL: The allegations in these cases include the fact that employees were not able to get their meal and rest breaks. There were allegations that employees were actually working off the clock. And finally, there were allegations that there had been alterations or deletions to time cards and time records, again to under-report the total hours that employees were working, to avoid the payment of overtime.

KAUFMAN: The settlements in each of the 63 cases must still be approved by a court, but Wal-Mart expects to pay between $352 and $640 million. The precise amount will depend on what worker claims are filed. To put the settlement amount in perspective, the company's sales for the most recent fiscal year were about $375 billion.

In a statement, Wal-Mart said quote, "resolving this litigation is in the best interest of our company, our shareholders, and our associates," adding, "many of these lawsuits were filed years ago, and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today." Wal-Mart had no further comment.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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