Wal-Mart Accused of Denying Lunch Breaks
Oakland, Calif., Lawyers representing about 116,000 former and current Wal-Mart Stores employees in California told a jury Monday that the retailer systematically and illegally denied workers lunch breaks. The lawsuit covers former and current employees in California from 2001 to 2005.
The class-action suit in Alameda Superior Court claims that the workers are owed more than $66 million plus interest. Millions of dollars are also being sought to push the company for the alleged wrongdoing.
The case concerns a 2001 state law that is considered one of the nation’s most worker-friendly. It states that employees who work at least six hours must have a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break. If they do not get it, the law requires that they be paid for an additional hour of pay.
Wal-Mart declined to give an opening statement and its lawyers declined comment. In court documents, the company claims that workers did not demand penalty wages on a timely basis. The chain adds that it did pay some employees their penalty pay and, in 2003, most workers agreed to waive their meal periods as the law allows.
The lawsuit was brought in 2001 by a handful of former Wal-Mart employees in the San Francisco area and took four years of legal wrangling to get to trial.
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Report Expects e-Commerce Growth
Cambridge, Mass., As on-line technology continues to flourish, so too will on-line retail sales burgeon. According to Forrester Research, the $172 billion in U.S. on-line retail sales in 2005 will nearly double to $329 billion by 2010.
The 14% compound annual increase of e-commerce mainly can be attributed to retailers’ new approaches to on-line consumers. Rather that seeing on-line stores as a low-cost supplement, retailers now view the e-commerce as a channel to improve customer service and retention.
Several top retailers reflect this growing trend of on-line promotion and improved consumer relations, among them Target, Gap and Nike.
Tesco Team Eyes Albertson’s
London, Reuters reported that Tesco, Britain’s most prominent retailer, sent representatives stateside to consider a bid for Albertson’s, one of America’s top grocery chains.
Despite having 2,500 stores and annual revenues of more than $40 billion, Albertson’s has been facing intense competition from retail powerhouse Wal-Mart. As a result, the grocery chain recently hired investment bankers in order to explore its options on the market.
With a reported price tag of $7.6 billion, Albertson’s seems to have caught Tesco’s eye, at least momentarily. As the British retail giant reports half-year results this week, it continues to look for a way to tap the lucrative U.S. market. Tesco has already begun expanding into eastern Europe and east Asia.
In addition to Britain’s largest—and rapidly expanding—food retailer, France’s Carrefour and Belgium’s Delhaize have expressed interest in Albertson’s. The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is also courting the grocer.
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