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Mexico Supreme Court orders Wal-Mart to stop paying workers in store vouchers

[JURIST] The Mexican Supreme Court of Justice [official website] on Thursday ruled [press release, in Spanish] that Wal-Mart de Mexico [corporate website; JURIST news archive] may not pay employees in part with vouchers redeemable only at its stores. The court nullified the employment contract of a worker who challenged the voucher payments, finding that they violated Article 123 of the Mexican Constitution [PDF text], which guarantees the right to "dignified and socially useful work." The court likened the arrangement, which Wal-Mart called the Plan of Social Welfare, to a practice that prevailed during the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz [profile], who ruled Mexico [JURIST news archive] in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Until the practice was abolished by the current constitution in 1917, workers could be forced to buy exorbitantly priced goods at company stores. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage. From Mexico City, El Universal has local coverage.

Among other legal setbacks for Wal-Mart [JURIST news archive], four labor groups filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the Federal Election Commission last month, alleging that the retailer forced employees to attend meetings where political campaigns were discussed. Last year, a Philadelphia judge ordered Wal-Mart [JURIST report] to pay nearly $47 million in legal fees and costs resulting from a class action brought by employees who had been denied pay for work they did during breaks. A jury awarded the same plaintiffs $78 million for their off-the-clock labor, plus $62 million in damages [JURIST reports] under a Pennsylvania law that prohibits employers from withholding pay for more than 30 days. Also last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the certification [JURIST report] of a class alleging that Wal-Mart had discriminated against female employees.

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