ORLANDO, FL – The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed $330,446 in penalties to a Family Dollar store in Orlando after an investigation into a fatal shoplifting incident uncovered willful and repeat safety violations.
On Dec. 11, 2021, shortly after struggling with a shoplifter in a failed effort to prevent their escape with merchandise, a 41-year-old store employee experienced shortness of breath and nausea. An assistant manager called 911, but the employee later died at a local hospital.
Following its investigation of this incident, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Family Dollar Stores Inc. for entrapment hazards and issued a hazard alert letter for exposing employees to hazardous conditions associated with workplace violence. OSHA urged the company to develop and train employees on proper procedures in case of a robbery or shoplifting incident, and to provide a means for workers to request immediate assistance from the local police department or alarm company.
OSHA cited the national discount retailer for a willful violation for keeping an emergency exit door locked with a single key held by management. The agency also issued citations for two repeat violations for failing to keep an unobstructed pathway for workers to walk through, and for allowing aisles to remain obstructed by carts and merchandise boxes.
“Family Dollar has shown time and again that their priority is profits, not their employees. Our inspection revealed multiple unsafe conditions that management should have addressed, including locked doors and blocked exits,” said OSHA Area Office Director Sarah Carle in Orlando, Florida. “Tragically, someone lost their life as a result of an altercation. Incidents such as this can be averted when workers are trained on a violence prevention program that empowers them to recognize and avoid risks on the job.”
Family Dollar Stores have a long history of OSHA investigations at locations nationwide. The retailer is owned by Dollar Tree Inc., headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, and has more than 193,000 employees.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.