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Wal-Mart settles overtime suit

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SCOTT JAGOW: Wal-Mart has no intention of spending extra time in court. The retailer has reached a settlement about overtime. Wal-Mart will give employees about $34 million in back pay. Hillary Wicai has more.


HILLARY WICAI: Wal-Mart says it underpaid about 87,000 employees nationwide by at least $20 each over the past five years.

The nation’s largest retailer says it noticed the mistakes after an internal audit and brought the matter to the Labor Department in 2005.

Wal-Mart says it’s added safeguards and apologized.

The company has been under a lot of scrutiny, especially from groups like Wal-Mart Watch, whose sole purpose is to change the retailer’s business practices. Nu Wexler is with Wal-Mart Watch.

NU WEXLER: It’s certainly a step in the right direction. A lot of Wal-Mart’s employees will be able to get their back wages paid. They have to go to Wal-Mart’s website to claim them, but there are a number of other lawsuits out there right now.

Meanwhile, the California labor commissioner filed suit against Wal-Mart for the same overtime underpayment issue.

While the U.S. Labor Department settlement won’t include penalties, California law requires punitive damages.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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