Wal-Mart Seeks to Deny Workers’ Disability Benefits—Again
Posted by James Parks to AFL-CIO NOW
Last week, Wal-Mart trotted out a new corporate logo in the hopes of turning around its public image as a company that cares more about the bottom line than its employees and customers. But don’t tell that to Jimmy Singleton and Deborah Shank.
Back in November, the retail giant, which made nearly $13 billion in profits last year, sued Shank, a former employee who suffered permanent brain damage in a car accident, to get back $470,000 it spent on her medical bills. After a public uproar, Wal-Mart backed off. Now, Wal-Mart is at it again, with a different target.
David Nassar reports on The Huffington Post that Wal-Mart is trying to prevent a police officer—who was never a Wal-Mart employee—from receiving disability payments for injuries he suffered while trying to protect the public.
Here’s the story, according to Nassar and the Northwest Arkansas’ Morning News. Singleton, a former Pine Bluff, Ark., police officer, was patting down a suspect in 2003 when he was shot in the ankle and knocked unconscious from a blow to the head. He suffered neurological damage, and today is overly sensitive to light and suffers frequent migraines. He still has a bullet lodged in his ankle, making it difficult to walk or stand up for long periods of time.
Singleton is now retired but has spent the past five years waging a nasty court battle to receive disability benefits, which state workers’ compensation officials amazingly say he is not entitled to receive.
A state appeals court has overruled the workers’ comp commission, twice finding the commission wrongly excluded some evidence from consideration. Now the city of Pine Bluff has appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
That’s where Wal-Mart comes in. It has joined with other anti-worker groups, such as poultry giant Tyson Foods, the state Chamber of Commerce and two corporate organizations, and filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that Singleton’s claim should be denied.
Singleton’s attorney Kenneth Harper told The Morning News the “big boys” are interested in the case because they fear the Court of Appeals’ rulings will set a precedent that will allow more people to collect disability claims.
Singleton, who served as McGehee, Ark., police chief from 1993 to 1999, has retired and says he receives some retirement benefits, but that they don’t go far in today’s economy. He told the newspaper he does not understand why so many people object to him receiving benefits for his disability.
"I was a chief of police, and I never treated anybody like this."
Tags: Wal-Mart , Disability , Jimmy Singleton , Deborah Shank
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