BUSINESS
06/13/2013 01:21 pm ET Updated Jun 13, 2013

Tom Cruise: Walmart Has Improved 'Women's Lives Around The World'

Critics are calling out Hollywood star Tom Cruise this week for praising Walmart as “a role model” that has "improve[d] women’s lives around the world" during the retailer’s shareholder meeting earlier in June, according to MSNBC.

Cruise, who was joined at the event by fellow celebrities Hugh Jackman and Kelly Clarkson, also called Walmart a “role model for how business can address some of the biggest issues facing our world, in ways big and small."

The claim drew criticism from some activists, who called Cruise's comments out of touch with reality. Cruise "didn’t really tell the truth about what happens on a day-to-day basis,” one activist told MSNBC. Others took to social media to criticize the actor, accusing him of being a "tool," among other things.

Walmart and a representative for Tom Cruise didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post. A spokesperson for the retailer told MSNBC that celebrities like Cruise weren't paid for their appearance at the shareholders meeting. It's unclear if their speeches were vetted before they gave them.

Walmart has spent years fending off discrimination suits from women who say they're not treated equally at the company. About 2,000 women claimed in a class action suit last year that the retail giant discriminated against them when it came to pay and promotions. An earlier lawsuit was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which determined female workers nationwide didn't have standing to sue as a class.

Some working mothers at Walmart also have decried the store's pay, saying they have to rely on government assistance to make ends meet.

The comments also come at a time when Walmart's facing criticism for not signing on to the Bangladesh Safety Accord, a deal aimed at promoting safer working conditions in Bangladesh garment industry. The agreement was forged after a Bangladesh factory collapse killed more than 1,000 workers earlier this year -- including many women, who predominantly perform that kind of low-wage work.

The company has been pushing to improve its reputation recently. Last year Walmart announced a push to hire veterans and a program offering healthier food at an affordable price.

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