Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is having a tough time right now. Exxon-Mobile just bumped the mega-retailer from first place on the Fortune 500 list of revenue-generating U.S. companies. The company is facing allegations of bribing foreign government officials and may soon be hit with a related shareholder suit. With all of this, corporate leaders must have been relieved last week to settle a wage and hour claim brought by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Last month, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that repealed the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. The law had allowed employees that have experienced compensation discrimination based on their protected status to pursue damage claims in state courts. Women especially were dismayed; the wage gap between men and women is very real.
The United States Labor Department is asking state governments and the Internal Revenue Service to help it enforce wage and hour violations across the country. To help enforce wage and hour violations, the Labor Department is creating information sharing agreements that will forward information on businesses in breach of wage and hour laws to all cooperating authorities. As of yet, Wisconsin has not indicated its participation.
Lilly Ledbetter, the woman who helped change federal equal wage and hour law, believes the difference in wages earned for the same position between men and women is a human rights issue. She recently encouraged Congress to pass an equal pay bill that was coming before a vote in the Senate.