Investors watching the ongoing Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) immigrant labor saga got an update late last week when the company revealed in its latest filing with the SEC that it is in talks with the Justice Department to settle the government's investigation. Wal-Mart doesn't think whatever fines it might have to pay to resolve the matter will be "material" -- unsurprising, since the company had more than $4.7 billion in cash on its balance sheet as of July 31.

The government has been looking into the massive retailer's relationships with companies Wal-Mart contracted with to clean floors in some stores. This has been one of the biggest PR challenges facing the company in recent months, and any steps taken toward disengaging with the DOJ should be welcomed by investors. (It's not all good news, however: A civil suit against the company remains pending, the outcome uncertain.)

Wal-Mart, as we've discussed before, has had a hard time staying out of the bad news file in recent months, as business and other media have jumped on opportunities to take the company to task. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) investors and New York Yankees fans know the tune: When you're on top, everyone wants to take a shot at you. For companies that understand this, it becomes more or less a cost of doing business -- particularly in this case, where Wal-Mart must manage an amazing 1.5 million employees worldwide.

And sometimes you can strike back. Earlier this year we discussed Wal-Mart's efforts to retake spin control, and while the company may never regain the "feel-good American corporate dream" image it enjoyed, say, 10 years ago, it can at least shake some of its monkeys off its back. PR campaigns are one means of doing this; helping usher regulators politely out the door is another.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.