In late August, an Indiana warehouse used to process Walmart merchandise was evacuated because of a toxic contamination, and one worker has brought a negligence claim against the mega-retailer. The lawsuit seeks class action status.
Five days after the facility was evacuated, 600 employees and contract workers were informed that PCB, a highly toxic chemical compound long banned in the United States, had been discovered in the warehouse, but the source of the contamination was unknown.
A logistics company called Excel processes returned merchandise at the facility, and Excel workers have reportedly undergone medical tests to determine who might have been exposed and how the exposure could affect the employees' health. However, testing and assistance have reportedly not been offered to contractors working at the warehouse, nor had the contractors received any direct communication from Walmart or Excel at the time of a Sept. 18 report.
According to the lawsuit, Excel and Walmart have at no point "informed Plaintiff and the Class as to the extent of the contamination, the length that Plaintiff and the Class were exposed to the contamination, or the results of any inspection or evaluation of the facility."
After the warehouse was evacuated, employees were told that they would continue to be paid and receive benefits while the facility is closed and investigated.
Readers with occupational safety and health concerns may want to follow this case as it progresses.
At Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP, we represent employees and labor unions nationally and internationally in a variety of legal matters, including class actions related to occupational safety and health. To learn more about our comprehensive legal services, please visit our Labor and Employment Law overview.
Source: Consumerist, "Toxic PCB Contamination At Walmart Return Center Leads To Evacuation, Lawsuit," Ashlee Kieler, Sept. 18, 2014