The New York Times is reporting that nine “illegal” alien workers who were busted by the Feds while cleaning up after Wal-Mart shoppers, are now suing Wal-Mart for discrimination, and for failing to pay overtime, withhold taxes and make required workers’ compensation contributions. In return for working at Wal-Mart, these Mexican workers are now facing deportation for themselves and their families. The lawsuit was filed this week in Freehold, New Jersey. The lawsuit charges that Wal-Mart hired the cleaning contractors “with full knowledge” that they paid illegal immigrants less than legal workers, and that managers at Wal-Mart stores in Old Bridge and Piscataway, N.J. knew the nine plaintiffs were working illegally.
“Wal-Mart must have known about these violations,” the immigrant’s lawyer said. “If these people are going to work at Wal-Marts, then Wal-Mart and its contractors should abide by the labor laws.” A spokesman for Wal-Mart said the company did not know the workers were illegal. According to a Wal-Mart spokesman: “We have seen absolutely no evidence showing that Wal-Mart did anything wrong.” The illegal workers are claiming that they worked more than 40 hours per week, sometimes as many as 56 hours, with no overtime pay. The lawsuit seeks more than $200,000 in back pay. Illegal workers were found in Wal-Mart cleaning crews in 21 states.
The use of illegal workers by Wal-Mart contractors is not a new story. Several years ago, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 30 illegal workers were nabbed building a Wal-Mart superstore. Wal-Mart seems to surround itself with “plausible deniability” by pushing the violations off onto others, their subcontractors, just as they sought to deflect direct responsibility for clothes made in their name by children in sweatshops. The standard line seems to be: “Wal-Mart has done nothing wrong.” Yet the lawsuits and the federal investigations keep right on coming.