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Wal-Mart's Latest Ethics Flap Another Hit to a Struggling Brand

Joshua Holland: In the end, the Wal-Mart model may yet prove to be entirely self-defeating.
This, from Newsweek, is actually a fairly typical story about working in a country where most of the population blithely accepts that the Constitution that protects them from the vagaries and casual repression of government doesn't afford any protection from employers that are just as capable of meting out arbitrary punishment …
The very first day that Chalace Epley Lowry started working at Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) as an administrative assistant in the communications department, on Jan. 2 of this year, she went through a day-long orientation with a heavy emphasis on ethics. "We were told that even if we see something that has the appearance of something unethical we should report it," says Lowry. Now, two weeks after filing a complaint against a more senior executive, the 50-year-old mother of two finds herself looking for another job.
Lowry is the first to admit that she didn't know whether the Wal-Mart executive had done anything wrong. Mona Williams, the vice-president for corporate communications, had asked Lowry to photocopy some papers related to stocks. When Lowry found out a few days later that Wal-Mart was planning a $15 billion stock buyback, she worried that Williams might have traded on insider information by exercising her stock options. "In all honesty, Mona's transactions could all have been aboveboard," she says, "but I acted in good faith, just pointing out that there might have been some wrongdoing."
According to the company, Williams wasn't doing anything wrong. The whole things was a mistake, and might have ended there, but …
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.