While I’ve never shied away from my criticisms of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and a number of their policies, this year hasn’t been easy to continue that practice. In August, the world’s largest retailer extended benefits to domestic and same-sex partners of its employees. Just weeks later, the company announced that it would be banning the use of a number of toxic chemicals used by its suppliers including polyvinyl chloride.

Wal-Mart

These moves were immediately lauded by a number of groups that have, for years, been critical of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). There is little question that the company has made strides towards the good but they also take steps backwards less publicly. Last week, we reported on a shadowy lobbying group, the State Policy Network (SPN), that has a documented history of attacks on organized labor that also enjoys the financial support of a number of Walton family members along with Facebook and Microsoft.

Today, it has come to light that as many as 117 workers that were fired for their participation in “Black Friday” protests last year may soon be returning to work.

Wal-Mart has two weeks to reach a settlement

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), whose charter includes the protection of workers, claims that Wal-Mart stores in numerous states “unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees” who participated in legal strikes and protests. The protests were held on November 22, 2012.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) now has two weeks to reach a settlement with the workers involved. That settlement will in all likelihood see a number of these workers either being rehired or compensated according to the NLRB.

If Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) fails to reach a settlement in the time allotted, the NLRB plans to file a complaint against the retailer that will prompt a scheduled hearing in front of an administrative law judge.

Wal-Mart believes that they have acted lawfully

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is expected to make a decision in the coming days, and it may simply roll over in order to make itself look magnanimous before this year’s opening of the holiday shopping season. That, however, is only speculation as Wal-Mart believes that they have acted lawfully.

When asked for comment, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan recently said, “We take this very seriously. We believe our actions were legal and justified,” Buchanan said.