Ethical Issues Surrounding Walmart

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Ethical issues surrounding Wal-Mart
Ronald L. Reeves
Columbia Southern University

Ethical issues surrounding Wal-Mart
Sam Walton, founded Wal-Mart over forty years ago, where it started as a five-and-ten store in Bentonville, Arkansas (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). Since then it has become one of the largest retail stores in the world, with an estimated annual sales of close to $300 billion (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). His business philosophy was to provide low prices to its customers everyday (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). With such tremendous success in profits and growth, it has also brought many challenges relating to ethical issues in regards to; off-the-clock-work, sexual discrimination, health benefits, the role of unions, use of illegal aliens, and issues relating to child and labor laws. It is the intent of this case study to identify the ethical issues Wal-Mart has faced, as well as, discuss four questions of thought. Off-the-Clock-Work

From 2000 to 2007, Wal-Mart has been in court facing numerous law suits, in which they have paid out millions of dollars, for violation of laws surrounding non-payment of overtime compensation to its employees (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). Several employees claimed that managers required them to work off the clock by requiring them to work after punching out their time card (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). If the employee refused to work after their shift and off the clock, then they would be threatened with termination of employment. One of the many complaints include the use of “lock-ins” (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). According to Stanwick and Stanwick (2009) they stated, “Managers would lock the doors after the store had closed and would force the workers to stay in the store until all the work had been completed” (p. 410). Employees were also told that if they could not complete their assigned work in their eight hour shift, that they would have to remain at work, off the clock, until their work was complete. It was evident that the mangers had no respect or appreciation for the employees, who should have been valued as stakeholders that contributed to the success of the store. Sexual Discrimination

In 2001, Wal-Mart faced a lawsuit with regards to sexual discrimination for not promoting women to managerial positions and for not paying them a wage equivalent to what the male employees were making (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). Some of the facts that supported the lawsuit include; 65% of the hourly employees and 33% of the managers were women, and on average women received 6.2% less in wages than their male counterparts received (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). One example of discrimination included a female employe being told that a man was promoted over her, who was qualified, because the man had to support his family (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). Another example of discrimination was when a women was told that a man was paid more becauase according to the Bible, Adam came before Eve. The managers involved in these and other sexual discrimination cases included in this lawsuit made poor ethical decsions by discriminating against its female employees. Health Benefits

Stanwick and Stanwick (2009) mentioned, “In 2003 Wal-Mart’s policy of lower costs in every part of its operation was highlighted based on the type of health benefits that it offered to its employees” (p.413). New employees had to wait six months before being eligible for the health care benefit, and retirees were not allowed to keep their benefit (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). Wal-Mart’s payout for employee healthcare benefits in 2002, were 40% lower than the average that all companies in the U.S. were paying and 30% less than their competive retailers (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). In an effort to keep health care costs down, Wal-Mart recommended to the board of directors that it should hire more part time employees and try to discourage unhealthy employees...
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