Who Knew What And When Did They Know It

Aug 05, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Despite reportedly being in negotiations with the Department of Justice to head-off an indictment, Wal-Mart continues to maintain its innocence against the suggestion it knew
anything about company contractors using illegal immigrants to clean its stores.

One cleaning company that didn’t get a contract with the retail giant is finding that a little difficult to believe since it maintains it sent a letter to Wal-Mart’s chief executive,
Lee Scott, informing him that those winning bids were employing illegals.

The Gulf Coast regional president of the Jani-King International cleaning company, Raymond Drude, wrote a letter to Mr. Scott dated June 27, 2002. In the correspondence, Mr.
Drude alleged competitors were using undocumented workers from Eastern Europe in a store in Jackson, Miss.

“I asked him to investigate what appeared to me was happening,” Mr. Drude told The Wall Street Journal. “I never heard back.”

Wal-Mart, for its part, denies ever receiving the letter from Mr. Drude. “We still cannot find any record of this letter being received previously at our Home Office or anyone
at our Home Office who remembers seeing the letter or knowing the author.”

Wal-Mart may pay as much as $10 million to settle this case. It is not expected to acknowledge any wrongdoing on its part.

Moderator’s Comment: What impact, if any, does this illegal immigrant case have on how Wal-Mart operates its business? Will a settlement, even if Wal-Mart
admits no wrongdoing, lend credence to the accusations that the company treats its employees and vendors poorly?

If Wal-Mart were found guilty of knowingly using contractors that employed illegal aliens it could face fines up to $10,000 per worker. The raid on 60 Wal-Mart
stores in 21 states netted 250 illegal immigrants.

George Anderson – Moderator

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