BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a multistate coalition of attorneys general calling on Walmart to strengthen measures to protect the health and safety of their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the letter, the attorneys general express concern over media reports and complaints by employees alleging inadequate safety measures and sick leave policies and a lack of transparency around potential exposure to COVID-19 for employees and customers. Employees have also complained that some store managers have pressured them to work while exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Fall River Reporter is one of the media outlets that has received these complaints.
The coalition asks Walmart to confirm it is adhering to guidance and directives about how to adequately protect customers and employees during the pandemic, and commit to:
•Enforcing social distancing guidelines, including six feet of separation between customers and employees.
•Establishing a plan in case of exposure to COVID-19 that includes cleaning and disinfecting all shared areas, and promptly informing employees and customers about confirmed COVID-19 cases.
•Providing proper PPE for employees.
•Installing barriers to physically separate cashiers and customers at check out areas, using every other register, and regularly cleaning registers throughout the workday.
•Assigning an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets after each use.
•Lowering the number of customers allowed in stores to allow for social distancing.
•Informing state and local health departments about confirmed COVID-19 cases in each Walmart store.
Additionally, the attorneys general call on Walmart to adopt a paid sick leave policy that provides the protections required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act including:
•Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when the employee is unable to work because they are quarantined, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
•Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because they need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or to care for a child whose school or child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
•Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay when an employee is unable to work due to COVID-19 or must leave to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
Finally, the coalition asks Walmart to provide the attorneys general with documents and records related to the company’s policies and practices in place to protect employees against the spread of COVID-19.
AG Healey recently sent a similar letter to Amazon and Whole Foods urging the companies to strengthen workplace protections during the pandemic.
Joining AG Healey in sending the letter are the attorneys general of Illinois, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington.