In a federal class action, 42 named plaintiffs say Wal-Mart hired them knowing they were undocumented, stiffed them for overtime and for regular wages, paid them in cash or by personal checks from labor contractors, put them to forced labor through coercion, "violated immigration, money laundering and protective wage and hour laws," and routinely locked them inside stores while they worked night shifts.
Wal-Mart and some of its contractors settled federal complaints and paid millions in fines. The named plaintiffs, suing for the class, seek the wages of which they were cheated, and other damages.
Most of the named plaintiffs have names that indicate Eastern European descent, particularly Polish and Czech. Many say they worked more than 40 hours a week, seven days a week, and never were paid overtime.
Lead plaintiff Victor Manuel Zavala, one of two named plaintiffs with Latino surnames, claims that "beginning in no later than March 1997, senior Wal-Mart management, realizing that Wal-Mart could substantially reduce costs and substantially increase profits were it to rely on the labor of undocumented migrants to clean its thousands of stores, created a criminal enterprise that involved conspiracies to violate, as well as substantive violations, of federal immigration laws and other laws."