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January 14, 2004
Internal Wal-Mart Audit Finds Possible Violations

An internal audit at Wal-Mart of 25,000 employee records found thousands of possible violations of federal and state labor rules, but the company is calling the in-house audit meaningless and the audit's methodology flawed, the New York Times reports.

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The audit was conducted three years ago and covered one-week's worth of records. The audit, which is now under court seal, found nearly 1,400 instances of minors apparently exceeding restrictions on when and how long minors may work, according to the newspaper. The newspaper reports that the audit also found more than 60,000 occasions when workers may have worked through rest breaks and nearly 16,000 occasions when workers may have worked through meal breaks.

Wal-Mart contends the audit is meaningless because the issues raised by the audit could have been instances when workers missed clock punches or instances when school-aged employees were working on a day off from school because of a holiday.

"Our view is that the audit really means nothing when you understand Wal-Mart's timekeeping system," says Mona Williams, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart.

The company also contends the methodology used in the audit is flawed.

The newspaper notes that there have been 40 lawsuits filed against Wal-Mart, alleging the company forced employees to work through breaks without pay.

A longtime critic of the company's practices gave a copy of the audit to the newspaper.


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