The U.S. Department of Labor says Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has agreed to pay more than $4.8 million in back wages and damages to more than 4,500 employees. Additionally, Wal-Mart will pay $463,815 in civil money penalties.
The settlement follows a nationwide investigation by the Labor Department that found violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime provisions.
Those 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. Labor officials say Wal-Mart failed to compensate these employees with overtime pay, considering them to be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements.
“Misclassification of employees as exempt from FLSA coverage is a costly problem with adverse consequences for employees and corporations,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda 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.”
The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for individuals employed in bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales positions, as well as certain computer employees. To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the department’s regulations.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.