Walmart illegally fires employees for protesting over pay

The National Labor Relations Board, in a sweeping complaint filed on Wednesday, said that Walmart illegally disciplined and fired employees after strikes and protests for better pay.
The complaint listed violations of federal law in 14 states involving more than 60 workers and 34 stores. It said Walmart fired 19 employees for taking part in strikes and demonstrations against the company. Other employees were given verbal warnings or faced other disciplinary action. In some cases, according to the complaint, the company spied on employees.
The complaint said that twice on national television, as well as in statements in stores in California and Texas, the company unlawfully threatened employees with reprisals if they took part in strikes or protests. Some of those protests took place around Black Friday, the big shopping day that follows Thanksgiving, in 2012 and others the next year.
A union-backed group called Our Walmart had organized protests at about 1,000 Walmart stores in 46 states. Despite the threats, the protests drew thousands of employees seeking higher wages.
More than 60 supervisors and one corporate officer were named in the complaint.
Walmart said the employees were not fired for participating in an outside group. It said most of the firings were for breaking attendance policies.
Walmart also said it had acted respectfully and lawfully.
“This is an opportunity to shed some lights on the facts, and state our side of the case with a judge,” said Brooke Buchanan, a Walmart spokeswoman. “We continue to take our obligations very seriously in these matters.”
Walmart does not face fines. But if found liable it would be required to award back pay to employees, reinstate them, or reverse any disciplinary action taken. It would also be required to inform workers of their rights.
The government board’s general counsel office informed Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, of its findings in November and gave the company and workers a chance to reach a deal. But the talks were unsuccessful.
Walmart must respond to the complaint by Jan. 28. No hearing date has been set.
The general counsel’s office has authorized or issued complaints in other Walmart cases, and said additional charges remain under investigation.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, certain activities are protected by federal law, whether workers are unionized or not, like protesting or organizing for better wages or work conditions.

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