Eleven states and the District of Columbia warned Walmart on Tuesday that they believe the company was unable to protect workers and customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, a dozen attorneys general said they were “concerned that Walmart had not taken adequate measures” to prevent the spread of the virus inside its stores.
They cited complaints from workers who said they didn̵7;t know about potential exposure to colleagues who had the virus or felt pressure to work “even when they were sick or sick.”
“Our offices continue to receive reports of filled stores and a general failure by Walmart to implement measures to ensure customers and employees maintain a six-foot distance from each other, and monitor compliance with such measures, “the lawyers wrote.
They also said they received reports from the public that Walmart had failed to adequately sanitize its stores, “even after finding out about the proven cases of COVID-19 in doing so.”
The group asked Walmart to implement social travel within its stores and take specific steps in case of a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case. The letter was led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
Walmart said in a statement sent to HuffPost late Tuesday that it is working to keep workers and customers safe during pandemonium, including requiring face masks for all employees, making checks of temperature before changing, limiting store hours and installing plexiglass shields inside stores.
“While it is impossible to track the source of anyone’s infection, what we do see is that the health of our comrades has the potential to monitor the health of the nation as a whole,” the company said. “That’s why we are working in collaboration with local health officials and are taking active steps to help ensure the safety of our partners and customers.”
The attorney general’s attorneys also called on the retail giant to voluntarily meet the minimum required leave requirements set out in the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. That law, passed by Congress in March, sets mandatory leave orders for many businesses but does not include large employers like Walmart.
Walmart said that in addition to normal sick days, employees are eligible for coronavirus-specific leave if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are advised to quarantine medical personnel. But the policy does not specifically cover workers who may be immunocompromised or have recently been in contact with a sick person. Many employees recently told HuffPost that they still feel pressured to go to work even though they are afraid of getting sick.
Cindy Murray, a Walmart worker with the United for Respect advocacy group, applauded the attorney general for sending the letter, saying in a statement that “what Walmart’s associates have said from the day of one of the pandemics: Walmart does not prioritize our health, the health of our families, or our customers. “
Like other grocers and many retailers, Walmart has remained open throughout pandemonium as an important business selling point, albeit in a reduced capacity. Many of its stores have been forced to close temporarily due to coronavirus attacks, including a location in Worcester, Massachusetts, where more than 80 employees tested positive.
However, the pandemic-affected lockdown proved to be a sales bonanza for Walmart, as Americans hit stores and fell. The company saw the fastest sales growth in nearly two decades in the latest quarter.
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