Macy’s Inc. has agreed to pay a $950,000 fine and undergo a safety audit in connection to the decapitation of an employee in 2009 at a Los Angeles area distribution center. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based retail giant pled no contest to corporate criminal liability on August 11. As part of a negotiated settlement, the company will be required to conduct a pre-approved audit of equipment in all of its facilities in California. The employee was decapitated and crushed in 2009 in modified equipment used to consolidate waste.
The case, investigated by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, involves the July 2009 death of 65-year-old employee Roy Polanco. He was operating a cardboard baling and compactor machine at a distribution center in East L.A. when he fell into the machine’s unguarded opening. He was crushed to death and decapitated by the machine’s hydraulic compacting arm. The distribution centers use the balers to compact waste for recycling, and the one the employee was using had been modified to operate without interruption.
Macy’s, in addition to paying the fine, is required to conduct an audit of all of the balers and compactors at its facilities across the state. The procedure and methodology of the audit is subject to approval from the district attorney’s office, according to the settlement. As part of the settlement, Macy’s waives its right to appeal its no contest plea and speedy trial rights until August 2015.
This is not the only employment-related lawsuit in which Macy’s has been ensnared recently in California. In July, a putative class action was filed in federal court, as a group of consumers accused the retailer of illegally collecting personal information at in-store checkouts. The case is People of the State of California v. Macy’s Corporate Services Inc. in the Superior Court of the State of California.
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