Talk about sticking to your principles. Rather than simply pay a $7,000 fine stemming from the Black Friday trampling death of a store employee, Walmart has racked up at least $2 million in legal costs to prove their point.
The $7,000 fine from OSHA pales in comparison to the $400,000 fund Walmart established after the incident for customers injured in the incident, or the $1.5 million it donated to community programs in Nassau County, NY, where the trampling occurred.
But by paying the OSHA fine, Walmart feels it would be conceding that “crowd trampling” as an occupational hazard.
Officials at OSHA say they have already logged 4,725 hours of work by employees in their legal office on just this fine.
Following the incident, in which a Walmart employee died from asphyxiation as a crowd of 2,000 crazed shoppers stormed the store for Black Friday savings, OSHA said the retail giant failed to provide a place of employment that was “free from recognized hazards,” and that Walmart violated its “general duty” to employees by failing to take adequate steps to protect them from a situation that was “likely to cause death or serious physical harm” because of “crowd surge or crowd trampling.”
In response, Walmart calls the whole situation an “unforeseeable incident.”
Explains a Walmart Exec, who wants to roll back the OSHA fine:
OSHA wants to hold Walmart accountable for a standard that was neither proposed nor issued at the time of the incident,… The citation has far-reaching implications for the retail industry that could subject retailers to unfairly harsh penalties and restrictions on future sales promotions.
OSHA freely admits that it is looking to set precedent with this fine. If a crazed mob of shoppers can be deemed an occupational hazard, then retailers will have to take steps to make sure their employees are safe.