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Wal-Mart Settlement: Wake-up Call for Massachusetts Employment Law?

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Boston, MAWage and hour disputes may be on the downslide for the state of Massachusetts. On the heels of the largest settlement for a wage-and-hour class-action lawsuit in Massachusetts history-- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to pay $40 to all employees who worked for Massachusetts Wal-Mart locations between August 1995 and the settlement date—employers must realize that they have to abide by Massachusetts Labor Law .

Although some Massachusetts employment sectors have been hit hard during the recession (retail and financial services sectors continued to lose jobs), the state's unemployment rate slipped slightly for the second consecutive month. On December 17, the state Executive Office of Workforce Development announced that the unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent in November, down from 8.9 percent the previous month.

Getting back to the retail giant, it will be interesting to see how many former Wal-Mart employees across the state will return to their jobs with the giant retailer—will it further affect the unemployment rate?

The 2001 class-action lawsuit claimed Wal-Mart did not allow workers to have rest and meal breaks, refused to pay overtime wages, and even manipulated employees' time cards to lower their pay. The settlement will pay 87,500 former and current Massachusetts employees and payment will be determined by how many years an employee worked there. The average employee will receive around $734. However, neither party is allowed to comment about the issue.

And it will also be interesting to keep tabs on Wal-Mart's wage and hour lawsuits; after all, this isn't the first time it has violated the Massachusetts Employment Law. The state attorney investigated Wal-Mart after employees reported that they were required to work through their meal breaks, only taking breaks after working six or more hours, and even cutting their breaks short. In September Wal-Mart paid $3 million to settle an investigation of violations of state meal-break policies.

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If I never did receive the settlement check - who can I contact


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