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Wal-Mart audit shows labor abuses

An internal audit warned top executives at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. three years ago that employee records at 128 stores showed extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations, the New York Times said on Tuesday.
/ Source: Reuters

An internal audit warned top executives at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. three years ago that employee records at 128 stores showed extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations, the New York Times said on Tuesday.

An official at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, did not immediately return calls for comment, but a spokesperson told the paper the audit was meaningless, since what looked like violations could simply reflect employees' failure to punch in and out for breaks and meals they took.

The audit -- now under court seal -- of one week's time-clock records for about 25,000 employees found 1,371 instances in which minors worked too late at night, worked during school hours or worked too many hours in a day, the paper said. It also found 60,767 apparent instances of workers not taking breaks, and 15,705 apparent instances of employees working through meal times.

The paper said there are more than 40 current lawsuits charging Wal-Mart with making employees work without pay through lunch and rest breaks.