According to Wal-Mart, their associates, otherwises known as “Walmartians”, are “empowered to make decisions, take risks, and yes, even make mistakes in the cause of customer service”. A federal jury apparently believes some Walmartians took too many risks and made mistakes in the case of Ben Guiliani, who runs a maintenance and cleaning business. Guiliani had a contract with Wal-Mart to clean their parking lot and perform other maintenance at stores in Maine. Guiliani, who is of Mexican descent, filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart, claiming that he was discriminated against by the night crew at the Augusta store. Guiliani testified that in October of 1994 he arrived at work to find the parking lot he was to clean spray painted with the words “White Supremacy”. Several days later, Guiliani said he was harassed and assaulted by a Walmartian at the Augusta Wal-Mart. He says he reported these incidents to Wal-Mart, but they did nothing. By March of 1995, Wal-Mart began terminating all Guiliani’s cleaning contracts, with no apparent reason. Guiliani’s lawyer claims Wal-Mart never bothered to investigate these complaints because “they are too concerned about the bottom line”. The jury in U.S. District Court in Bangor, ME deliberated for 9 hours before awarding Guiliani $650,000 in damages. Wal-Mart says “this won’t be the last word” and has suggested that it will appeal the Guiliani verdict. In terms of damages, Wal-Mart sells $13.46 million every hour, so the award represents less than 3 minutes of sales to Wal-Mart. It took Guiliani nearly 4 years to win his case in court.
If you find yourself in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart, remember the case of Benjamin Guiliani, who helped clean those lots, and turn your car around and quietly drive out.