Companies and corporations that prioritized profits over the safety of their employees during the Covid-19 pandemic are watching as an increasing number of lawsuits are being filed by workers alleging unsafe workplaces and a lack of proper employee protective gear.
McDonald’s is just the latest as five of the fast food restaurants’ employees in Chicago and four of their family members filed a lawsuit claiming the company failed to provide adequate numbers of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to workers staffing their locations. Employees at one location only received a mask after going on strike, however no additional masks would follow and that same mask would have to be used repeatedly for subsequent shifts. The lawsuit also claims that managers at a location failed to notify the store’s employees when one of their co-workers fell ill with the novel coronavirus; a response that would have prompted the store’s employees to try to get tested for the illness themselves in an effort to protect themselves and those in their households and communities.
The lawsuit took the restaurant to task for its lack of response to a crisis that has been global in scale. “The damage done by McDonald’s decisions is not confined to the walls of its restaurants,” the lawsuit states, “but instead has broader public health consequences for the Chicago community, the State of Illinois, and the entire country.”
A Utah-based nutritional supplement distributor has also been sued by a woman who alleges that concerns she brought to management about the company’s lack of response to the ongoing global health crisis were dismissed. The employee developed a cough a day after sending her concerns and was later diagnosed as having contracted Covid-19.
As America’s businesses weighed decisions on staying open to remain profitable versus closing to keep their employees and their communities safer, America’s workers were cemented firmly in the middle of these battles. Preparedness, empathy, and balance in these decisions quickly separated those with no regard for their employees, their families, and their communities from those who truly tried to emulate the “business as family” mentality. It may very well be that questions regarding a company’s response to Covid-19 and how it treated its workforce will become standard in post-pandemic job interviews as potential employees now have a basis on which to truly judge a corporation’s commitment to its employees’ health, well-being, and safety.