NEW YORK — Workers who were contract employees at Wal-Mart stores, arrested recently in raids by federal immigration agents, have filed a racketeering lawsuit against the world’s largest retailer.

This story first appeared in the November 12, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The suit alleges Wal-Mart and the contractors violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, by systematically depriving the workers of labor law protections over at least the last three years.

According to wire reports, the suit seeks class-action status for perhaps thousands of immigrants, legal and illegal, hired by the contractors to clean Wal-Mart stores.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction barring Wal-Mart from further violations. The workers claim they were denied overtime pay, despite working at least 56 hours a week, and that contractors failed to withhold taxes or make workers’ compensation contributions. Many of the workers face deportation.

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