Black Friday is approaching, which means that shoppers are gearing up for early morning scrambling to get deals, stores are gearing up for huge surges in profits and employees of companies like Target are protesting their extended hours during the holiday season.
Five years ago, one of the worst Black Friday incidents occurred at a Walmart in Valley Stream, N.Y. when 34-year-old employee Jdimytai Damour was trampled after attempting to hold back a crowd of eager shoppers before the day’s bargains began. Damour had only worked at the store for about a week prior to the incident. After that incident occurred, Walmart was issued a $7,000 fine for failing to protect its employees.
According to the Huffington Post, Walmart still has not paid that fine.
Despite avoiding the relatively minor fee, Walmart executives insist that they are better prepared should a similar situation arise at one of their stores. Company spokesman Randy Hargrove explained that they’ve implemented a new strategy to deal with crowds across their stores nation-wide.
“Since that time, we’ve developed comprehensive plans in stores around the country, and we’ve worked with nationally recognized crowd management experts to do it,” Hargrove said.
Walmart’s $7,000 fine was handed down by the Labor Department’s OSHA branch, which regulates workplace safety. The ruling cited the “general duty” clause, which requires companies to “take certain precautions for the health and safety of its workers in specific situations.” Because the incident that occurred in 2008 was not “willful” on behalf of the company, however, $7,000 was the maximum fine that the company could receive.
Not only is Walmart refusing to pay the fine, they’re fighting against it. They appealed the case, and are caught in a legal battle rife with delays and other setbacks. If they are ultimately forced to pay the charge, analysts believe that this will set a precedent for Walmart and other companies to take more drastic security measures, as it would indicate that the company should have predicted the tragedy that occurred in 2008. The Black Friday bargains are scheduled to continue at Wal-Mart and several other huge department stores throughout the country on the day after Thanksgiving this year.