According to The Denver Post (November 14, 2012), a 2009 class action lawsuit brought by 13,521 injured workers against Wal-Mart and its service providers settled for $8 million after a three-year fight. Colorado state law prohibits outside interference in determining medical care. The suit alleged that the defendants, including Concentra Health Services, went too far in controlling the medical treatment that injured workers are entitled to under Colorado’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Concentra operated medical facilities where the Wal-Mart employees received treatment.
Concentra must pay $4 million for its part in making it difficult for medical providers to make independent assessments on how to best treat workers injured on the job. The injured workers treated at a Concentra facility will each receive $520. Among other injunctive relief, Concentra agreed to provide more training for its sales and marketing force as to state laws that regulate and prohibit interference in how care is provided.
Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.
Came across this post today: “How McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Became Welfare Queens.” News like this has become so commonplace that you almost accept it with a shrug. Yeah, big box stores and fast food chains are paying their workers cruddy wages, forcing them to go on state health insurance and food stamp assistance. Oh well. Move along. Nothing to see here.
But the outrage should exist. These stories make my blood boil. Many of these companies are making massive profits. You’re telling me you can’t pay a living wage? All of us, as taxpayers, are helping pad the the coffers of these companies. By not providing sufficient wages or health care, the actual taxpayers serve as the necessary social safety net for these workers. Is that really how we want our society and country structured?
Admittedly my experience is anectodal, but I see a number of these workers in my practice–from the greeters at Wal-Mart to those flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Many are making a minimum hourly wage of $7.25. No matter how hard they work (and, in my experience, some of these fast food and retail workers are the hardest workers out there, in light of their work condition), they cannot get ahead or make enough to avoid the necessity of seeking food stamp assistance or of searching for the local food pantry.
Corporations simply should not be able to get rich on the public’s back. As taxpayers, we continue to allow this grossly one-sided equation to continue.