Attention Wal-Mart Workers: Please Do Not Report Injuries


| May 4, 2001


Attention Wal-Mart Workers: Please Do Not Report Injuries

Consider this scenario: You get a job with America's largest private employer. You go to work in the fabric department of a huge red, white, and blue building. Things go well for five months. Then suddenly, you slip on some spilled dog food, fall backward, and hit your head on the corner of a pallet. You experience memory loss and suffer seizures. You're out of work for several months, undergoing physical therapy and rehab.

In compliance with law, your all-American employer pays your medical bills and partial wages for your time out of work. But when you leave the company and the symptoms continue, your former employer refuses to honor your insurance claims and begins an investigation that concludes your problems are caused by depression.

This tragic tale is one of several cited in Mark D. Fefer's article in the Seattle Weekly about injured employees who, while attempting to claim compensation, run into a brick Wal -- Wal-Mart that is. Yes, the largest employer in the U.S. outside of the government stands accused of not paying worker's compensation insurance to its fallen worker-bees.

Fefer writes: 'In Washington, most employers pay premiums into a state fund and Labor and Industries pays out the claims. However, employers like Wal-Mart, Boeing, Microsoft, and others who have at least $5 million in assets are allowed to manage their own claims and pay them directly out-of-pocket. Big companies prefer this 'self-insurance' method since it gives them much greater control over their costs.'

Find out why the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries wants to take away North America's biggest retailer's right to self-insure.
--Al Paulson
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