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Walmart protests seek protection of employee rights

Retail workers in California may have heard about a number of National Labor Relations Board findings against one of the country's largest retail employers. According to the NLRB, Walmart has engaged in behavior that violates employee rights to join legal protests and strikes. The corporation has done so by punishing workers who attempt to organize for better pay and conditions. The nationwide Black Friday protests against the retailer targeted low wages and what many see as illegal actions against labor organizations.

The group leading the protests calls itself Our Walmart, and it is backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers. Around 1,500 protests were planned for the day after Thanksgiving, including some in the Los Angeles area. A Walmart spokesman stated that far fewer protests were actually expected, and the company believed that many at the events would not be employees of the corporation.

Workers are planning more actions in support of their two primary goals, which are a minimum $25,000 wage per year and an end to harassment and punishment of labor activists. For its part, Walmart claims that it already pays most workers this salary and does not engage in anti-union behavior.

Workplace harassment and discrimination against employees exercising their protected rights to organize can have deeply painful effects on the individual workers and their families. Workers must often risk financial hardship from lost wages and even complete loss of income in their fight for fair treatment.

If an employer is suspected of illegally crossing the line by violating employee rights, it may be possible for the individual to receive compensation for financial and emotional damages. An attorney with experience in employment law could help to gather the appropriate evidence and pursue civil claims on behalf of the workers.

Source: CBS News, "Black Friday: Walmart employees stage protests to demand higher pay", Alain Sherter, November 29, 2013

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