Labor judge: Wal-Mart strikes protected under law

This Sept. 19, 2013, photo, shows the sign of a Wal-Mart store in San Jose, Calif. A National Labor Relations Board judge says Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unlawfully disciplined workers who staged protests in May and June of 2013 and ordered the retailer to reinstate 16 former employees, as well as give them back pay. The decision, posted on the labor board’s website late Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, arrived one day after the nation’s largest private employer said it was giving raises to most of its hourly employees. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

NEW YORK (AP) — A National Labor Relations Board judge says Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unlawfully disciplined workers who staged protests in May and June of 2013 and ordered the retailer to reinstate 16 former employees, as well as give them back pay.

Judge Geoffrey Carter ruled that the employee actions were protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision, posted on the labor board’s website late Thursday, arrived one day after the nation’s largest private employer said it was giving raises to most of its hourly employees.

In a printed statement, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said that it disagreed with the findings and that it will pursue all of its options to defend the company. It called its actions “legal and justified.”

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