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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Wal-Mart employees threaten walkout on day after Thanksgiving

Protesting a string of workplace discrimination and other allegations, Wal-Mart employees have threatened a strike on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving -- one of the chain store's largest sales days of the year. About 200 protesters met with investors and analysts recently to discuss the issue and plan a protest. Wal-Mart is the world's single-largest private employer and has come under fire for years about workers' rights.

Wal-Mart employees are disputing wage and hour violations, sexual discrimination and safety conditions as well as discrimination for speaking out against the company on those issues. The company denies these claims, stating that most employees are satisfied with working conditions and chances for advancement. Employees are non-unionized and have stated that company retaliation including firing or cutting work hours against those who speak out is not uncommon.

A walkout by Wal-Mart employees occurred recently when 30 employees left the store to protest working conditions and management treatment of grievances. In mid-September, warehouse workers staged a 15-day strike, and Chicago police recently arrested 17 people blocking an entrance to a supplier's warehouse while protesting. However, the planned Black Friday walkout would cause significant losses to the company in terms of business revenue. The employees are supported by several groups such as the National Organization for Women, Our Walmart, and the National Consumer League, which have promised help if the walkout takes place.

California law protects workers from companies who may discriminate based on gender for promotions and raises and also provides employee protection for wage and hour issues. An employment attorney can explain California and federal statutes and how they work together to create safe and ethical work environments for California employees.

Source: Everything Lubbock, "Walmart Workers Threaten Black Friday Action," Abby Ellen and Alan Farnham, Oct. 11, 2012

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