Business, Economics and Jobs

Labor Department orders Wal-Mart to pay $4.8 million in back wages


Wal-Mart store signage is seen from the store lot on April 23, 2012 in Mexico City, Mexico.


Daniel Aguilar

The Labor Department ordered Wal-Mart to pay $4.8 million dollars in damages to over 4,500 employees on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported

The settlement found that thousands of employees who worked as security guards and managers in Wal-Mart's vision departments between 2004 and 2007 were denied overtime pay due to incorrectly applied exemptions, the Wall Street Journal reported. The paybacks to workers range from $30 to $10,800, according to the Journal. 

The legal suit, which also requires Wal-Mart to pay $463,815 in civil fines, is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the major retail chain. 

"When the issues resolved today were initially raised, we took them seriously and fully cooperated with the Department of Labor to make sure they were corrected in 2007," said Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter, Reuters reported

More from GlobalPost: Wal-Mart's international reach (INFOGRAPHIC)

Nancy Leppink, the head of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, told the Associated Press she hoped that the settlement would warn other companies that they cannot avoid paying overtime by improperly classifying their workers.

“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,” Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis told the Post. 

This is not Wal-Mart's first major issue with overtime payments: In 2007, the Labor Department ordered the company to pay nearly $34 million in back wages to 87,000 workers, according to the Post. Wal-Mart also paid a $352 million fine in 2008 over allegations it didn't provide workers with proper rest and meal breaks, the Journal reported. 

The settlement comes as the retailer's Mexico branch is under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly turning a blind eye to bribes paid to earn approvals for new stores. 

More from GlobalPost: Wal-Mart bribery: Mexican attorney general opens new probe as WMT shares rise