An internal audit obtained by The New York Times documents thousands of violations of state labor laws at Wal-Mart stores. The audit, performed by the company in 2000, uncovered 1,371 violations of child labor laws, 60,767 cases of missed breaks, and 15,705 instances when employees skipped meals at 128 stores during a one-week period.
Shortly after the audit, Wal-Mart stopped requiring employees to punch in and out for legally required 15-minute breaks. The company claims the change was for employees’ convenience. But critics contend Wal-Mart was seeking to eliminate evidence of labor law violations.
The Washington Post reports that Wal-Mart has launched an ad campaign to soften its image, while Business Week explores whether growing consumer concerns about the company’s labor practices will eventually catch up with the bottom line.