Wrongful death lawsuits filed by employees against their employers related to the coronavirus have begun. Wando Evans died on March 25 at the age of 51 from complications of COVID-19. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois against his employer, Walmart, alleging the retailer knew about Mr. Evans’ symptoms and disregarded them.
Mr. Evans was a 15-year employee of Walmart who worked as an overnight stock and maintenance associate at a store near Chicago. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Evans told store managers about his symptoms, but was ignored. His employer sent him home from work on March 23 and he was found dead in his home two days later. Mr. Evans’ family alleges that Walmart knew that employees were showing signs of the coronavirus and that another man who worked at the store – Philip Thomas – died, and did nothing to safeguard the employees.
The lawsuit further alleges Walmart was negligent because it did not adequately clean the store, enforce social distancing, notify employees about colleagues who were showing coronavirus symptoms and provide protective gear, such as gloves and masks.
In a statement, Walmart said the company is “heartbroken at the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store and we are mourning along with their families.”
Walmart said it deep-cleaned the store, even though the two employees had not been there in more than a week. It said it also hired a company to clean the store and had a third-party and a health department inspect it. It also stated that it has increased safety measures across the company by adding sneeze guards at cash registers, putting decals on the floors about social distancing and limiting the number of customers in stores. It said, “We take this issue seriously and will respond with the court once we have been served with the complaint.”
As coronavirus cases increase in the United States, Walmart has announced new measures to keep customers and employees safe. Walmart reduced store hours in mid-March to allow more time for restocking and cleaning. It announced that it will limit the number of customers in stores, provide gloves and masks to employees, and take employees’ temperatures when they report to work. It also announced on March 19 that it would give bonuses to full-time and part-time employees and hire 150,000 new workers to keep up with increased demand that has resulted from families stocking up on food and household products.
Read more about this lawsuit here.