A parent of a Walmart, Illinois employee who died from COVID-19 complications filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the retail giant, alleging that the store had not done enough to protect the employees of the new coronavirus.
Wando Evans, who worked in a Walmart store in Evergreen Park for 15 years, was found dead at his home on March 25. He first mentioned symptoms compatible with the new coronavirus to the management of his store two weeks ago, but was largely ignored, according to court documents filed Tuesday at the Cook County Circuit Court.
Evans, who worked overnight in inventory and maintenance at Walmart, was sent home by store management on March 23, then found dead two days later. He was 51 years old.
The lawsuit alleges that Walmart was negligent, among other things, by not implementing, promoting and enforcing social distancing guidelines and by failing to clean and disinfect the store to prevent the spread of COVID -19.
The lawsuit also alleges that the store did not provide personal protective equipment such as masks, latex gloves and even antibacterial soaps or wipes to employees. Another employee of the same store died on March 29 also due to complications from COVID-19, according to the complaint.
“The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have designated Walmart stores as” high volume retailers “, requiring them to take extra precautions to protect employees and customers from the spread of COVID-19”, Tony Kalogerakos, l ‘Evans’ family lawyer said in a statement.
“At a minimum, they were responsible for informing store employees that a colleague had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, for providing their employees with personal protective equipment such as masks and latex gloves, for putting on place a social distance and send the homes of exposed employees until they are eliminated by a doctor. professionals, “he said.
His company is also requesting an investigation by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) into Walmart’s actions, added Kalogerakos.
Kalogerakos said that Evans’ family did not contact his office until after they began receiving calls from former colleagues. “It wasn’t until they learned of his death that they knew he had symptoms,” said Kalogerakos.
“They urged the family to take steps to prevent this from happening to anyone else,” he added.
On March 31, Walmart announced a series of new employee safety measures, including temperature controls.
A Walmart spokesperson declined to comment on the ongoing litigation, but said the company was heartbroken at the deaths and had implemented new safety and sanitation measures in all stores amid the pandemic of coronavirus.
“We are heartbroken at the deaths of two associates in our Evergreen Park store and we cry with their families,” the spokesman said in a statement.
“Although neither partner has been in the store for more than a week, we have taken steps to strengthen our cleaning and disinfection measures, which include thorough cleaning of key areas. Over the past week, the store has passed a security and environmental compliance assessment as well as a health department inspection, “the statement said. “As an extra precaution, we hired an outside company to further clean and disinfect all high-contact surfaces in the store, which included decontaminating front entrances, carts, registers, and bathrooms, as well as food areas, including produce and meat. “
The statement added that the company has taken additional measures across the country to protect associates and clients, “including additional clean-up measures, the installation of sneeze guards in registers, the placement of distance stickers social on floors and limiting the number of customers in a store at any given time. “
The company will also take steps such as screening associates, performing temperature controls, and providing masks and gloves to associates who wish to use them.
The statement continued, “We take this matter seriously and will respond to the court once we have been informed of the complaint. “
The lawsuit against Walmart comes as a handful of employees elsewhere in the retail industry demanded more protections as newly classified “essential workers” in the midst of the crisis.