US: Wal-Mart faces US$640m lawsuit bill
Wal-Mart is set to pay up to US$640m to settle 63 lawsuits that accuse the world's largest retailer of breaking labour laws.
Under the agreements, Wal-Mart will pay at least $352m but the figure could reach $640m depending on the claims submitted in the suits.
The retailer said it would continue to use electronic monitoring systems to ensure its complies with its wage and hour policies and law.
The agreements, announced on 23 December, follow a similar deal last month when Wal-Mart said it would pay up to $54.3m to settle a lawsuit in Minnesota. Employees there had claimed they were denied breaks and forced to work off the clock.
Tom Mars, executive vice president and general counsel at Wal-Mart, said resolving the outstanding litigation was in "the best interest" of the company.
"Many of these lawsuits were filed years ago and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today," Mars said. "Our policy is to pay associates for every hour worked and to provide rest and meal breaks."
Frank Azar, a lawyer overseeing litigation cases in 14 states, said: "We are pleased with this settlement and believe it is fair and reasonable for our clients."
Wal-Mart said the cost of the settlement would see it record an after-tax charge to continuing operations in its fiscal fourth quarter of approximately $250m, or approximately $0.06 on earnings per share.
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