News and opinion by: Whymrhymer
Two WalMart employees (one would assume they are now ex-employees) successfully sued WalMart Stores Inc. for violating Pennsylvania labor laws. Specifically, the charges are that WalMart forced it’s workers to work through their breaks and work extra hours without overtime pay.
If that is the law in Pennsylvania, as it no doubt is in most states, and if WalMart broke it, as they probably did, then so be it! This story does, however, raise a more basic question: Why are these law suits allowed?
There are 1.2 million WalMart employees in the U.S and another quarter million in other countries; no doubt the majority of them have had to work some extra hours for just their regular hourly wage and have had to cut short their break period . . . but you can bet that most of them have been working at WalMart for years and will continue to work there for many years to come. Is that amazing? No, of course its not. The majority of WalMart employees are happy to have a job . . period!
These are not highly skilled professionals who can go out and compete for the big bucks, they are basically minimum wage workers who are lucky to have a steady job and a steady paycheck with a company whose paychecks never bounce. Certainly there are those who complain about their working conditions but they understand that WalMart may be a great big company but it still has to compete in a cut-throat market place with a growing number of other “big box” stores and they understand that their management is doing what it does because upper management wants to see maximum productivity and maximum profits.
And then there are those people who will sue their employers at the slightest provocation — that employer may be WalMart, IBM or MicroSoft — they understand that there is a profit to be made in law suits (especially when you are suing someone with a “fat wallet”) and rather than even try to find a better job they sue. The two WalMart employees who started this legal action are doing no one a favor — except themselves. WalMart will probably have to pay the $62 million to these two and the thousands of others who jumped on the law suit bandwagon and, as a result WalMart’s customers will, ultimately, foot the bill.
Should an employer treat it’s employees well? Of course, it’s only good business! Should a dissatisfied employee look for work elsewhere? Of course! Should there be an option to sue your employer? In my opinion, only for serious breaches of health and safety regulations — outside of that its the business of the employer and the employee to agree, disagree or part company.
The Washington Post article: Wal-Mart Workers Win Wage Suit
PBS Frontline Report: Wal-Mart At A Glance