Wal-Mart Settles Transportation Worker Lawsuit
Bentonville, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores reported Friday that it settled a class-action lawsuit that claimed the chain discriminated against African Americans seeking positions as truck drivers in Wal-Mart’s private fleet.
While Wal-Mart denied that it conducted any discriminatory actions, the retailer settled the lawsuit for $17.5 million. In addition, the retail behemoth has agreed to employ 23 of the class members who submit approved claim forms, and it will deliver notices of future employment opportunities to these members.
The chain also agreed to establish benchmark-hiring goals so that future hires, based on race, will be compensated proportionately to the composition of applicants. Wal-Mart also plans to revamp recruitment efforts and advertising targeted to African Americans, according to a company statement.
“Resolving this litigation is in the best interest of our company, our shareholders and our associates,” said Daphne Moore, spokesperson for Wal-Mart Stores. “Encouraging diversity is an important part of the hiring process for all areas of our company. We are implementing improvements to our transportation division’s recruitment, selection and personnel systems and believe they will be an integral part of our commitment to diversity.”
Wal-Mart job cuts begin
Rumors of additional layoffs at Wal-Mart circulated throughout Northwest Arkansas this morning as employees in the retailer’s information systems division and human resources group learned they were being let go. Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar explained the jobs cuts were a continuation of announcement last week that Wal-Mart planned to eliminate 700 to 800 positions and did not represent additional cuts above that amount.
JCPenney beats 4Q earnings guidance, expects 1Q loss
PLANO, Texas JCPenney reported 2008 fourth quarter operating income of $389 million and earnings from continuing operations of 94 cents per share, compared to recent guidance for earnings to be in a range of 90 cents to 93 cents per share. For the full year, operating income was $1.13 billion, or 6.1%of sales, and earnings from continuing operations were $2.54 per share.
Total sales in the fourth quarter decreased 9.8% compared to last year, while comparable-store sales decreased 10.8%. The strongest merchandise results were in women’s apparel and family shoes and, geographically, the best performance was in the Southwest region of the country. The weakest results were in fine jewelry and in the Southeast region.
For the first quarter of 2009, JCPenney expects total sales to decrease 10% to 13% and a loss in the range of 20 cents to 30 cents per share.