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November 8, 2005

Wal-Mart: always low ethics


Senior Wal-Mart executives knew cleaning contractors were hiring illegal immigrants, many who were housed in crowded conditions, and sometimes slept in the backs of stores, according to a federal agency’s affidavit.
The affidavit, unsealed last week, was part of an investigation of Wal-Mart by federal immigration officials that led to the 2003 raid on 60 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states, and the arrests of 245 illegal workers. The retailer agreed to pay $11 million in March to settle the case, but says top executives neither encouraged nor knew of the practice.
The affidavit was filed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to secure search warrants for a 2003 raid on Wal-Mart Stores Inc. headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The INS has since been folded into the bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
… “The sworn testimony (in the affidavit) establishes that top Wal-Mart executives conspired with contractors to exploit undocumented immigrants,” said James L. Linsey, a New York attorney leading a class-action lawsuit on behalf of former janitors.
… According to the affidavit, one cleaning contractor, Christopher Walters, told INS investigators that his company, IMC Associates of St. Louis, had been dropped by Wal-Mart in 1997 after INS raids in the St. Louis area found illegal workers cleaning the retailers’ stores.
Walters told the INS that a Wal-Mart vice president, Leroy Schuetz, advised him to set up multiple subsidiaries so that if one of them were found using illegal workers, he could continue to do business with the retailer through the others.

Makes sense.

Posted by Stephen at 1:01 PM in Business | Legal issues | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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