Wal-Mart Sets Up Diversity Panel

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said yesterday it has established an Employment Practices Advisory Panel to develop and implement progressive enhancements to equal employment opportunity and diversity initiatives for the nation's largest private work force.

The newly appointed members of the advisory panel are Dennis Archer and Vilma Martinez. Archer is chairman and c.e.o. of The Diversity Network and chairman of the law firm of Dickinson Wright, PLLC in Detroit. Previously Archer was the mayor of Detroit, a Michigan Supreme Court justice, and the first African-American president of the American Bar Association.

Martinez, a partner at the Los Angeles law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, has an extensive history as a Latina civil rights activist and was president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund for nine years. Martinez specializes in employment discrimination and commercial matters at the federal and state levels.

"Dennis and Vilma have devoted their lives to fighting for opportunity for diverse communities across this country," said Wal-Mart Stores c.e.o. Lee Scott in a statement. "They have worked to make our society a better place, and we are eager to benefit from their vast expertise to help Wal-Mart continue to build upon our already strong diversity commitment and initiatives."

Wal-Mart's creation of the advisory panel comes on the heels of the company's recent release of its 2005 Equal Employment Opportunity data showing that Wal-Mart's work force of more than 1.3 million United States associates consists of more than 150,000 Hispanics, 225,000 African-Americans, and 815,000 women.

The mission of the advisory panel will complement the efforts of Wal-Mart's Office of Diversity, established in 2003, which helps enhance the company's employment practices, supplier relationships, and community outreach programs.

In other Wal-Mart news:

--The retailer has agreed to pay up to $1.5 million to settle claims that its merchandise didn't carry price tags as state law requires in Michigan, according to published reports. The state attorney general's office filed a notice of intended action against Wal-Mart two months ago, after an investigation found that four Michigan stores had price tags on just 20 percent to 25 percent of their items.

Wal-Mart Stores will pay a $750,000 fine and $30,000 to reimburse the state for the cost of the probe, the government said. It also has agreed to donate $100,000 to Michigan food banks. Wal-Mart will pay $620,000 in a separate account to cover the cost of independent audits. Michigan is the only state in the nation that requires price tags on almost every item in stores.

--DJM Realty Services said yesterday that it's offering to sell or sublease the locations of 27 former Wal-Mart and Sam's Club outlets. The former outlets offered for sublease are in markets where Wal-Mart stores relocated to larger properties.

The outlets, which range in size from 43,000 square feet to 135,000 square feet, are in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas, the company said.

Wal-Mart is selling the property through its Wal-Mart Realty subsidiary. Wal-Mart and DJM invited bidders to submit their offers by July 24.
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