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  • A federal judge in New Jersey refused last week to dismiss a lawsuit in which 17 immigrant janitors accuse Wal-Mart of cheating them out of vacation and overtime pay, and conditionally certified the case as a collective action that could allow thousands of other immigrant janitors to join the suit.

    However, it wasn’t a slam-dunk for the janitors. The judge also refused to allow workers from Wal-Mart owned Sam’s Club to join the suit, and narrowed the scope of the suit so that it only includes janitors who clean Wal-Mart stores during the last four years.

    The original suit was filed in late 2003, after Wal-Mart stores were raided by immigration officials, resulting in the arrest of more than 250 illegal immigrants who were cleaning Wal-Marts around the country. Most of the illegal immigrants were deported, but the illegal immigrants who filed the case were allowed to stay pending any legal action.

    Wal-Mart has denied the charges, saying that the janitors actually worked for outside contractors, not for the retailer. Nevertheless, the judge has ordered Wal-Mart to turn over the names, addresses and nationalities of all former and current janitors since January 2000 and disclose all contracts with companies supplying janitorial services to its stores.

  • The attorneys representing female employees in a gender discrimination suit against Wal-Mart have requested that the courts maintain the suit’s class action status, charging that the Bentonville retailer had used a discredited survey and false assertions to suggest that there were no pay differences between men and women at 90 percent of its stores.

    If the judge rules against Wal-Mart, the suit conceivably could end up representing as many as 1.5 million current and former female Wal-Mart employees.

    Wal-Mart argues that each gender discrimination case should be heard separately, and not be lumped together in a class action.

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