In addition to national class action suits, Wal-Mart's legal team can be found frequently in courtrooms across America, defending the world's largest retailer against
lawsuits as varied as the merchandise stocked on the Wal-Mart store shelves. Besides being the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart is gaining a reputation as the U.S. retail industry's biggest litigant.
In the northeast, Wal-Mart agreed to spend nearly $2 million rather than be brought up on criminal charges for the trampling death of one of its employees in a Long Island Wal-Mart on Black Friday 2008. Included in the monetary settlement is $1.5 million for Nassau County social services programs and nonprofit groups.
I'm not sure how Nassau County social services programs and nonprofit groups are connected to a Wal-Mart employee's death, nor why they should profit from the incident. One might question the integrity of the Nassau County legal system which seems to have proven that if your pockets are deep enough, you can buy your way out of criminal proceedings.
I wonder if this pay-your-way-out-of-prosecution plan is only available to publicly traded retail companies or if it will also be extended to independent mom and pop shops facing criminal charges. Is there a slding scale for exoneration?
It's not clear how or if Wal-mart will pay its way out of court in another new lawsuit that was filed down south this week. A woman has filed a civil suit after a large rat ran out from behind a Coke display in a Louisiana Wal-Mart store, causing the customer to break her foot in an attempt to protect herself with her shopping cart. Reportedly Wal-Mart employees were aware that there was a rat loose in the store, and had even given it the pet name of "Norman."
I think the fact that it never occurred to those Wal-Mart employees that a rodent might somehow have an adverse effect on customer satisfaction says a lot about the importance of customer satisfaction at that particular Wal-Mart location.
On the west coast, another new lawsuit has been filed against Wal-Mart by the EEOC in Fresno on behalf of a group of Wal-Mart employees. The claim alleges that Latino and Hispanic workers were openly and repeatedly harassed in a Fresno Sam's Club location. The Fresno EEOC director alleges that Sam's management was aware of the
harassment and did not stop it.
I wonder what the odds of receiving a monetary legal settlement are for the average Wal-Mart worker. Considering Wal-Mart's settlement payouts in the past few years, the odds have to be much better than winning the lottery. Perhaps it's just an unofficial part of the benefits package.
It was just another week for the Wal-Mart legal team. Isn't it interesting to think how much lower prices could be at Wal-Mart if American consumers weren't paying all the company's legal fees, filings, and settlements? Is that just part of the price we all pay to "save money and live better?"
More About Wal-Mart and Retail Legal Actions:
- Complete Index of Pending and Settled Legal Actions Against U.S. Retail Chains
- Wal-Mart Pushes Its Politics In the Workplace
- Wal-Mart's Female Employee Practices: Exemplary or Discriminatory?
- Multi-Channel Integration at Wal-Mart
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