Punishing workers for taking sick leave puts Wal-Mart on track to be a major spreader of swine flu this fall. The retail giant gives workers demerits and deducts pay for staying home when they are sick or to care for a sick child.

In interviews with Wal-Mart “associates” at stores across New York State, employees confirmed that they had no choice but to work sick. One Wal-Mart employee from a supercenter explained: “Plenty of girls are coughing their brains out. But they cannot go home because of points. Everyone comes in sick. You cant stay home and God forbid if you leave early.” “Associates” –including food handlers working in the grocery, meat and even deli departments—are routinely coming to work with the flu, conjunctivitis, fevers, strep throat, diarrhea and vomiting. It is only when an employee is coughing too loudly and violently that he or she will be transferred from the food section to another department, where the sick worker will still be interacting with customers.
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