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On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2008 | Workers' Rights

According to Union Review, Nassau County police are of the opinion that there was inadequate security:

The head of a retail workers’ union says the Black Friday trampling death of a temporary Wal-Mart worker in New York was preventable. CNN cites United Food and Commercial Workers Union leader Bruce Both as charging a “blatant level of irresponsibility” by the retailer in the death of a man who was trampled by the crowd rushing into a Long Island store. 

It is well-known that because of rock-bottom prices available only to a limited number of early shoppers on “Black Friday”,  retail stores often have huge crowds waiting to storm their aisles the moment the doors open.  The stores deliberately attract these crowds with their super-low discounts, and they are responsible for providing adequate security.  The death of this Walmart worker is especially tragic because this situation should have been anticipated and avoided. 

 The law is clear that if a customer were injured in this kind of stampede, he or she would have a viable lawsuit against Walmart for negligence.  Here, however, there is a possibility that Walmart is protected by the Workers’ Compensation Law.  If the worker was a Walmart employee, his family may only be entitled to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.  If, on the other hand, he was a temporary worker who obtained the job through an employment agency, the Workers’ Compensation Board or a court could find that the agency was the employer.  Under those circumstances, Walmart would not be able to avail itself of the protections of the Workers’ Compensation Law unless the worker was Walmart’s “special employee”.  That determination would be based primarily on how much supervision and control Walmart exercised over the worker.