When’s an associate not an associate?

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) filed an amended K yesterday that had an interesting disclosure about post-termination agreements with eight of its top executives, who apparently, are also called associates — just like the people who stock the shelves or work the cash registers at Wal-Mart’s stores. But unlike those associates, who probably get a handshake from their manager when they leave the company but probably not much else, these 8 associates qualify for 2 years worth of base salary, or as Wal-Mart describes it, transition payments. In exchange, the executives are required not to compete with Wal-Mart for the next two years.