Walmart Employee COVID-19 Cases Are Higher Than Company Claims, Says Report
While Walmart was praised for early implementation of in-store safety measures to protect customers, the retail giant is under continued scrutiny about the number of employees infected with coronavirus.
Deemed an essential business, Walmart locations remained opened all over the United States during the pandemic. But it's Walmart's employees that are paying a price for the uninterrupted service.
Back in April, CEO Doug McMillon assured employees that being on the front lines of the pandemic isn't translating into higher infection rates. In an open letter to the Walmart community, he stated that the infection rate among employees was in line with that of the general population, at about less than 1%. However, United for Respect, an advocacy group for Walmart workers, reports that the number of infected employees is now in the thousands, with at least 22 confirmed deaths. Walmart has not yet provided an updated percentage.
The company faced its share of legal controversy in handling COVID-19 infections among employees. A wrongful death lawsuit in April alleged that the death of a store worker in Illinois was a direct result of Walmart ignoring a rampant infection in their store and failing to properly protect employees. Later that month, a Massachusetts public health director sent Walmart a cease and desist notice to force them to shut down a local store in order to test employees—85 ended up testing positive.
To date, the company doled out around $755 million in special cash bonuses to hourly associates, and have accelerated payments of $170 million in a regular bonuses. Employees can also take advantage of the company's emergency leave policy which has been extended until July 31. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest food news delivered straight to your inbox.