Untitled Document
Taking a Closer Look at the Stories Ignored by the Corporate Media
Donate | Fair Use Notice | Who We Are | Contact

NEWS
All News
9-11
Corporatism
Disaster in New Orleans
Economics
Environment
Globalization
Government / The Elite
Human Rights
International Affairs
Iraq War
London Bombing
Media
Police State / Military
Science / Health
Voting Integrity
War on Terrorism
Miscellaneous

COMMENTARY
All Commentaries
9-11
CIA
Corporatism
Economics
Government / The Elite
Imperialism
Iraq War
Media
Police State / Military
Science / Health
Voting Integrity
War on Terrorism

SEARCH/ARCHIVES
Advanced Search
View the Archives

E-mail this Link   Printer Friendly

CORPORATISM -
-

Wal-Mart Escapes Criminal Charges in Case

Posted in the database on Saturday, March 19th, 2005 @ 17:52:16 MST (1271 views)
by Chuck Bartels    AP News  

Untitled Document

LITTLE ROCK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. escaped criminal charges but agreed Friday to pay $11 million, a record fine in a civil immigration case, to end a federal probe into its use of illegal immigrants to clean floors at stores in 21 states.

A dozen contractors who actually hired the laborers for work inside stores for the world's largest retailer agreed to plead guilty to criminal immigration charges and together pay an additional $4 million in fines.

"This case breaks new ground not only because this is a record dollar amount for a civil immigration settlement, but because this settlement requires Wal-Mart to create an internal program to ensure future compliance with immigration laws by Wal-Mart contractors and by Wal-Mart itself," said Michael J. Garcia, assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We plan to use this settlement as a model for future cases and efforts in worksite enforcement," he said.

Wal-Mart received a target letter from a grand jury in Pennsylvania and was the subject of an October 2003 raid spanning 21 states and 60 stores. The raids led to the arrest of 245 allegedly illegal immigrants.

Wal-Mart, which has 1.2 million domestic workers, had pledged its cooperation in the investigation.

"We are satisfied that this is being settled as a civil matter," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams told The Associated Press from the company's Bentonville headquarters. "Despite a long, thorough and high-profile investigation, the government has not charged anyone at Wal-Mart with wrongdoing."

Federal officials said the fine money would go to the Treasury Forfeiture Fund and will be spent on "promoting future law enforcement programs and activities in this field by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

Williams said the government can spend the money for training and initiatives that "help make sure service companies or anyone else can't prey on undocumented workers."

"We think the money will be well spent," Williams said.

Williams, in a conference call later, made reference to Wal-Mart's "ongoing partnership with the government" and said the company is making a number of changes.

No longer does Wal-Mart employ outside contractors to clean its floors. Companies that do contract work for other chores will have stricter rules to follow to win those contracts, and upper management will have to approve contracts of more than $10,000, Williams said.

"We've put stronger internal controls in place so hopefully nothing like this would happen again," Williams said.

The probe began in 1998 and ended with the big raids on Oct. 23, 2003.

Among those arrested in the raids were eight people who worked for Wal-Mart itself. Williams said the eight had been hired from floor cleaning companies as Wal-Mart began to clean its floors with its own workers. Williams said those workers had documents that appeared to be valid and said the law prevented the company from challenging those documents.

"We were between a rock and a hard place," she said.

Williams said no executives or mid-level managers knew the contractors had hired illegal immigrants, a statement reflected in the consent decree.

Workers picked up in the October raids came from 18 different nations, including 90 from Mexico, 35 from the Czech Republic, 22 from Mongolia and 20 from Brazil, officials said. In all, two separate investigations resulted in arrests of 352 illegal immigrants contracted as janitors at Wal-Mart stores. Officials say a third of the workers have been deported to their home countries. Lawyers for some of the workers claim they worked as many as seven days a week, were not paid overtime and did not receive injury compensation.

An employer can face civil and criminal penalties for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants or failing to comply with certain employee record-keeping regulations.

Once investigators moved in, Wal-Mart told its executives to preserve documents. Federal agents didn't wait and took boxes from the office of a mid-level executive at the company's Bentonville headquarters. That executive still works for the company, Williams said.

About a year before the raids, Wal-Mart had started to bring the work in-house. The company said it had used more than 100 third-party contractors to clean more than 700 stores nationwide. At present, the company has 3,703 stores in the United States.

Wal-Mart Stores had sales last year of $288.19 billion.

States in which the raids occurred include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Wal-Mart shares fell 88 cents to close at $51.45 in Friday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.



Go to Original Article >>>

The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Looking Glass News. Click the disclaimer link below for more information.
Email: editor@lookingglassnews.org.

E-mail this Link   Printer Friendly




Untitled Document
Disclaimer
Donate | Fair Use Notice | Who We Are | Contact
Copyright 2005 Looking Glass News.