What would we do without Wal-Mart? When Wal-Mart is not destroying historic sites or abusing employees and customers (here) it is working hard to guarantee the efficient spread of swine flu or H1N1. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) is now intervening to address Wal-Mart draconian labor practices which violate the CDC guidelines, common sense, and human decency. The store imposes a “demerit” system that penalizes employees for staying home with flu-symptoms — preferring it appears for them to come to work to infect customers. It may require a slight change to the slogan “Save Money. Live Better” to reflect the shorter life expectancy for employees and customers alike.
The store imposes demerits and deducts pay when employees stay home, as recommended by the CDC, with flu symptoms or to take care of children with such symptoms. One of the main recommendations of the CDC is for employers to allow workers to stay home with flu symptoms and to allow them to do so with sick children at home.
Wal-Mart omitted that part of the CDC instructions in its policy for employees, who are told to simply wash their hands and cover their nose and mouth when coughing.
It, however, proceeds to impose a rule that any employee who misses a day due to sickness will receive a one-point demerit and lose eight hours of wages. Three such absences within six months leads to discipline and a fifth day results in “active coaching” by management. I am not sure what that is but it does not appear good. A sixth day leads to what Wal-Mart calls “Decision Day,” when a worker can be either terminated or put on a year-long trial period during which time he or she can be fired for any infraction and cannot be promoted.
The result is that Wal-Mart employees are coming in sick and reportedly loading their children with Motrin and Dimetap to suppress the fever of their children with the flu to keep them in school — further spreading the flu.
Many employees have complained for years that Walmart fired them after having documented illnesses. In one case on the radio this morning, a former employee complained that he was in such pain that he was barely able to walk and asked to go to the hospital. The supervisor told him that he would receive a demerit and face “decision day.” When he returned with proof from the hospital, he was fired and told it was due to missing work and getting angry at a supervisor after she told him that she would not accept a doctor’s note verifying the injury.
On the positive side, Wal-Mart is now offering a new line of coffins — the ultimate offering for a Big Box store. This closes the loop for customers who can shop at the store, be infected, die, and actually leave in a big box.