Wal-Mart assessed $4.83 million in back wages, damages

Bentonville, Ark. -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to pay more than $4.8 million in back wages and damages to some 4,500 employees nationwide.

The assessment follows a departmental investigation of the retailer that uncovered violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime provisions.

Wal-Mart has been assessed another $463,815 in civil money penalties.

The violations affected current and former vision center managers and asset protection coordinators at Wal-Mart Discount Stores, Wal-Mart Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club warehouses. Wal-Mart did not pay overtime because it considered the employees to be exempt; however, the investigation revealed that the staffers were non-exempt and therefore due overtime pay for all hours worked past 40 per week.

"Misclassification of employees as exempt from FLSA coverage is a costly problem with adverse consequences for employees and corporations," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "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 determined to be due as well as an equal sum in liquidated damages to the employees.

The civil penalty of nearly $500,000 stems from the repeat nature of the violations.

Wal-Mart corrected its classification practices for these workers in 2007, and negotiation over the back pay issues has been ongoing since that time.