Essential Workers at Walmart Underhanded

Essential Workers At Walmart Underhanded.Workers and industry professionals have fought hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to support their families and livelihoods. We have a lot to be thankful for in terms of essential workers. They have kept grocery stores stocked, manned the cash registers, and kept distribution centers moving. They have also provided health care and medical services to those in need. Some say we are only as good as how we treat our most vulnerable. In addition to the elderly, our most vulnerable have been essential workers, and many of them have gotten the short end of the stick.

Conditions at Walmart

It has been reported that Walmart has provided minimal or “scant” protection to its workers during the pandemic.[1] One employee had asked for personal protective equipment after a customer repeatedly coughed at her station. Naturally, she would be fearful for her health and safety. She was refused, and when she said she would bring her own protective gear to work, she was terminated. When applying for unemployment, her company refuted, saying she had quit. This is one of several instances of workers fearing retaliation for asking for protective gear or complaining about safety conditions. “Store workers who had direct contact with customers were five times more likely to contract COVID-19 than workers who did not”, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal, states.[2] That is enough to put workers in a position where they feel they must do something.

Workers have stated that Walmart concealed COVID-19 cases from employees, which would harbor an environment of fear and suspicion. In one instance, Walmart challenged an investigation into the death of an employee.[3] OSHA is tasked with the immense responsibility of ensuring these large businesses use sound practices, yet it is reasonable to question whether they are doing enough, or rather, if Walmart is doing enough.

Investing Back in Employees

For every dollar an employer invests in the mental health treatment of its employees, they see a $4 return. Based on pre-COVID-19 numbers, organizations spend over $15,000, on average, annually to each employee experiencing mental health issues. This number is likely higher now. In calculating costs, turnover alone costs an average of $5,733 per employee. Days lost per year average $4,783 per employee. Employees who experience mental difficulty use $3,000 more in health care services per year, on average, than their associates who do not.[4] It all adds up.

Employers who invest in the mental health of their employees are poised to see returns that outweigh the costs of doing so. Workers, now more than ever, deserve an investment into their mental and physical well-being. “Of 10 Walmart employees in five states interviewed…just three said they felt safe from COVID-19 exposure at work.”[5] This ratio is likely to be similar for an even larger portion of employees. For those who have been working remotely or not working at all, it may be difficult to imagine what these essential workers go through or have went through daily. Out of the millions of employees experiencing psychological distress every year, it goes undetected for a sizable portion of those employees.[6]

Difficult Circumstances

Of those that do experience psychological distress, they are more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol, in addition to a variety of other drugs, and have substance abuse disorders. A problem at work starts to become a societal issue, hurting families and setting people back.[7]

It is difficult to find growth in environments described above because safety is such a concern that it impedes other tasks. For example, how can an employee concentrate on getting noticed by their employer, or moving up in position when they have too much on their mind? What about when the employee wants to get a raise yet cannot focus on their work because of the conditions and circumstances at hand? For a lot of workers, time has stopped, and even went in reverse for some. People find themselves in positions that they have not been in for years, or have never been in. For many, a a stable income is needed to keep themselves afloat, and they have no choice but to stay in the environment where fear is consuming as the pandemic drags on.

If you would like to discuss a possible work injury case against Walmart, Amazon, or other big-box stores, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

[1] Anonymous. “Walmart Sales Soared, Essential Workers Got Scant Protection.” Claims Journal, Wells Media Group, Inc., 14 May 2021, www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2021/05/14/303749.htm.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Anonymous. “NSC: New Mental Health Cost Calculator Shows Why Investing in Mental Health Is Good for Business.” WorkersCompensation.com, WorkersCompensation.com, LLC., 14 May 2021, www.workerscompensation.com/news_read.php?id=38764.

[5] Anonymous. “Walmart Sales Soared, Essential Workers Got Scant Protection.” Claims Journal, Wells Media Group, Inc., 14 May 2021, www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2021/05/14/303749.htm.

[6] Anonymous. “NSC: New Mental Health Cost Calculator Shows Why Investing in Mental Health Is Good for Business.” WorkersCompensation.com, WorkersCompensation.com, LLC., 14 May 2021, www.workerscompensation.com/news_read.php?id=38764.

[7] Ibid.

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