• Market Crumbs

COVID-19 Lawsuits Begin

Image via Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

While many people have been able to work from home amid the coronavirus shutdowns, employees in industries that have been deemed essential have continued to go to work.

In doing so, these employees have been exposed to COVID-19 and in some cases have passed away. As a result, employees at various companies are now starting to take legal action against their employers.

On Tuesday, a group of McDonald's employees in Chicago filed a class action lawsuit against the company, alleging McDonald's failed to adopt government safety guidelines for the coronavirus, therefore endangering themselves and their families.

According to the lawsuit, McDonald's did not provide adequate hand sanitizer, gloves and masks or notify employees when another employee became infected with the coronavirus. The employees are seeking an injunction that will make McDonald's stop requiring employees to reuse masks, require face coverings for customers and require McDonald's to notify employees if a coworker contracts the coronavirus.

McDonald's pushed back on the claims, saying they are inaccurate.

"Crew and managers are the heart and soul of the restaurants in which they work, and their safety and well-being is a top priority that guides our decision making," McDonald's said in a statement. "These include wellness checks, protective barriers, adhering to social distancing guidelines for customers and crew, using gloves and masks, increasing the frequency of hand washing and moving to contactless operations."

In California, McDonald's employees filed administrative actions with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health alleging unsafe work conditions.

The lawsuit against McDonald's is just the latest in a recent string of lawsuits filed against corporations as a result of the coronavirus.

The family of a Walmart employee filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company last month, alleging he told store managers he had symptoms of the coronavirus and was ignored.

Wrongful death lawsuits have also been filed against JBS S.A. and Tyson Foods, after an employee passed away at each company's meat processing facilities as a result of the coronavirus.

As instances of people passing away as a result of contracting the coronavirus while at work become more common, it's likely these lawsuits may just be the beginning of more to come.

Leftover Crumbs

  • Mortgage strength continues. Mortgage applications to purchase a home jumped 6% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. Purchase volume is now just 1.5% below the same period a year earlier after being down 35% from a year earlier six weeks ago. Despite low rates, applications to refinance a mortgage continue to fall as they dropped 6% last week. However, the number of applications to refinance a mortgage is still 160% above the same period last year. As a result, total mortgage application volume fell 2.6% for the week.

  • Walmart to wind down Jet.com. Four years after acquiring Jet.com for $3.3 billion, Walmart will wind down the website. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the acquisition is responsible for "jump-starting the progress we have made the last few years" in e-commerce. Jet.com founder Marc Lore runs Walmart's e-commerce business in the U.S. "While the brand name may still be used in the future, our resources, people and financials have been dominated by the Walmart brand because it has so much traction," McMillon said.

  • TikTok's valuation exceeds $100 billion. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has seen its valuation exceed $100 billion in recent private market transactions. Recent transactions indicate ByteDance's valuation has increased by approximately 33% since its last funding round two years ago when it was valued at $75 billion. The sources said some of the private market transactions even valued ByteDance as high as $140 billion.

  • Pier 1 will shut its doors. Pier 1, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, will close all of its 540 stores as it was unable to find a buyer. Pier 1 will try to sell its website, remaining inventory and intellectual property. "Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down," CEO and CFO Robert Riesbeck said.

  • Johnson & Johnson stops selling talc. Johnson & Johnson will stop selling talc Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada as demand for the product has declined over safety fears. Johnson & Johnson is currently facing more than 19,000 lawsuits alleging the product caused cancer as a result of contamination with asbestos. "Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising," the company said.