2 One of the most frequent complaints about Walmart, which employs 1.4 million people worldwide, is its failure to pay workers a living wage. Store employees are paid 20-30 percent less than the industry average, making many of them eligible for social assistance. It is estimated that American taxpayers fork out $2.5 billion a year in welfare payments to Walmart employees (Head, 2004). Because the retailer hires hard-to-place workers, like recent immigrants, seniors, and single mothers, its employees are often afraid they will not find work elsewhere. The kind of work Walmart does offer is gruelling: stores are intentionally understaffed-the strategy behind the company's legendary productivity gains-so that existing employees will work harder (Head, 2004). It is alleged that systemic discrimination against women within the corporation has denied the majority of Walmart workers the chance at promotion, a charge that is now the subject of the largest civil-rights suit in U.S. history. [continues]
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