March 19, 2010

Walmart: Shopping for Souls in Aisle Three

Joseph Casias was the Associate of the Year in 2008 for the Walmart in Battle Creek, Michigan. He achieved this despite his ongoing struggle with sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor. During his five years with the organization, the 29 year old Casias went to work every day determined to be the best. To help manage the pain that accompanied his challenging illness, his doctor prescribed medical marijuana, which is legal in Michigan. Casias used the drug only at home and was never "high" when he reported for work. (See our recent post on medical marijuana here.)

Last November Casias sprained his knee at work. Walmart ran a routine drug screen following the injury. Unsurprisingly, Casias tested positive for marijuana. Despite the doctor's prescription, Walmart terminated Casias for violation of the company drug policy. Despite the legality of Casias's pot use, the company appears to be on firm ground: as with smokers in many states, companies are free to impose their own prohibitions on the use of otherwise legal products.

Casias collected unemployment insurance after his termination. Now it appears that Walmart has had second thoughts about that, too. They are contesting his UI eligibility, as he was terminated for cause. Casias has already been collecting UI for over three months, so he is likely nearing the end of the benefit. But when Walmart sees a penny on the floor, they will push old ladies aside to get it.

Company Speech, Company Soul
In a recent ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that corporations have the same free speech rights as do individuals. Perhaps the court will be tempted to take it one step further and rule that corporations have souls.

One look at Walmart should convince them otherwise. In their typical tone-deaf manner, Walmart has acted within legal parameters; Casias was in technical violation of company drug policy, even though his drug use was medically necessary and presented no risk to the employee, co-workers or the public. Casias was an award-winning employee - but, I suspect, a drag on the company health plan. So Walmart seized the opportunity of a failed drug test to show Casias the door.

As usual, Walmart shoppers, there are plenty of specials today, but don't bother looking in aisle three for remnants of compassion or a company soul .


Note: We have blogged Walmart's compassion struggles many times. Just enter "Walmart" into the site search engine in the column to the right.

| 4 Comments

4 Comments

Brilliant piece.

Wal-Mart bashing again huh....how about discussing how obamacare will increase Catepillar Tractor healthcare insurance by $100M - or maybe that 16,500 new IRS agents will be tasked to enforcing your buying government approved healthcare (yes it IS in the bill - you have had 72 hrs to read the 18 inch high paper stack).

Is it too difficult an issue for liberals because they cannot explain it away?
Hardly the 3000% decrease in company healthcare costs mr obama proclaimed (yes he did - watch him on youtube or fox) to 200 rousing union members just a few days ago.

We have a president who is a consumate liar - why don't you point out the many times he lied about how he is going to help business when in fact he is killing it?

Here we are worried about someone using pot....like who the hell cares...this isn't even important. Medical pot use is a scam...

It's too bad that a corporate soul isn't recognized in court. Then perhaps a company could do what was morally right without worring about the legal action by those, wanting for everyone, what is done for someone in need. No way however, in the politically correct world there is only room for doing things one way - the legally correct way. Perhaps soon after being given the right to a soul, they will be given the right to be human in other ways, like making an honest mistake and not having class action this and class action that filed against them. Until then, it's survival of the fittest.

Wow. When I read this I don't see "Obamacare" or "legally correct", I just see greed at the top.There are all kinds of excuses that some may call "reasons" for Walmart's behavior, but to me this is a story of a guy who could have given up and said he was too sick to work; instead, he did go to work and apparently did an exemplary job under difficult (to say the least) circumstances, and when it came time to collect what he had earned - workers' comp for an injury he got at work - he got the shaft instead. I for one do not buy the idea that corporations=individuals, but they certainly can be as reprehensible.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on March 19, 2010 10:21 AM.

Health Wonk Review and other noteworthy news briefs was the previous entry in this blog.

New York Weighs In on Obesity is the next entry in this blog.

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