UPDATE on Wal-Mart Trampling Death: Wal-Mart to pay $2M to avoid charges
In November, the Brandworkers blog reported on the death of Jdimytai Damour, a 34-year-old man who was trampled to death by the Black Friday crowds while he worked a temporary position at a Wal-Mart store in Long Island.
Yesterday, Wal-Mart cut a deal with Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice to pay $2 million and implement a new safety plan at 92 of its locations. In exchange for this, Wal-Mart will not face criminal charges, and Mr. Damour's family would have to waive their right to bring a separate civil suit against Wal-Mart if they participate in the victim's fund. (Associated Press)
It is truly a tragedy that it took the death of a worker, 11 injuries, and the threat of criminal charges for Wal-Mart to finally take some initial steps in improving safety at its stores. Mr. Damour's family and the 11 injured workers and customers have a right to know why Wal-Mart didn't properly prepare for Black Friday, why they did not implement a safety plan immediately following the incident, and why they continue to refuse to admit any wrongdoing in the incident.
It is a step in the right direction for the company to be implementing a safety plan, but if Wal-Mart had properly planned for Black Friday the way several other stores do, Mr. Damour would still be alive. A company that listens to its workers and puts the safety of its workers and customers before profits could have easily avoided this terrible tragedy.
Allowing Wal-Mart and its senior executives to shirk criminal responsibility is a mistake. Hopefully some accountability is created by the ongoing civil suit from Mr. Damour's family against Wal-Mart. But ultimately it is working families, organized in their communities and on the job, that must rein in the power of the retail giants.