Many millions of people are at a Wal-Mart every day, whether to work or to shop. The world’s largest box store sees an influx of customers around the winter holidays. Recently, questions have arisen as to whether the store is doing enough to ensure customers and workers are reasonably safe. Property owners/ managers who invite the public on site for the financial benefit of the business owe those people the highest duty of legal care in making sure they are safe from an unreasonable risk of harm. This includes not just property defects (i.e., slippery floors, perilous walkways, improperly stacked merchandise), but also from foreseeable criminal assaults.
An investigation in August by Bloomberg Businessweek revealed that the retailers efforts at aggressive cost-cutting come at a steep price: Safety. The researchers delved into police and hospital records to reveal that hundreds of violent crimes happen at Wal-Mart stores every day, including attempted kidnappings, shootings, stabbings and murders. It breaks down to about one violent crime every day. Some police chiefs have actually spoken out against the retailer, arguing that taxpayers are effectively subsidizing security for the stores. One chief in Arkansas remarked that despite the fact that this is the world’s largest retailer, half is squad is there for hours on end throughout each shift, responding to calls. These problems were far worse at Wal-Mart, as compared to the chain’s rivals.
Now, a group of labor organizations are pressing for the company to do more to improve security in stores and surrounding parking lots. The groups have met with local and city officials in Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and Minnesota, asking that they declare the Wal-Mart stores in their communities to be a public nuisance, which increase the pressure on the company to improve security. Continue reading