One of the great things about Illinois workers’ compensation law is that the law and how cases go doesn’t really change based on who the employer is. By that I mean if your case is against Amazon which employs over 500,000 people nation wide or some mom and pop shop that has two employees, the case result should be the same if all of the facts are the same. And while Amazon and other corporate giants hire huge law firms to fight big cases, work comp claims are handled by one lawyer per case and they can’t bully you in to a bad result.
I’m in my 25th year of being an attorney and have been involved in tens of thousands of cases versus almost any employer you can think of. I’ve seen hundreds against Amazon, all the major airlines, Jewel, the City of Chicago, etc. No company scares an attorney or creates problems because of how big they are.
If you’d asked me a month ago if there’s a big company I haven’t had a case against, I would have said no. But then I read a tweet by Dan Price. He is a Seattle CEO who cut his own pay by $1 million and pays every worker at his company at least $70,000. As a result his company has been incredibly successful and grown significantly.
In his tweet he pointed out the following differences between Walmart and Costco:
Minimum wage Costco: $17 Walmart: $12
Average pay Costco: $25 Walmart: $15
Average tenure Costco: 8 years Walmart: 3 years
Employees on food stamps Costco: Virtually none. Walmart: More than any other company
Oh and their prices are comparable which says a ton. What I realized when I read this tweet was that I don’t believe I’ve ever been involved in a case against Costco while I’ve had hundred of calls from Walmart employees who have been injured on the job.
To be fair, there are currently only 22 Costco’s in Illinois and about 170 Walmarts. But if you look at a store with similar numbers like Mariano’s or Whole Foods (who by the way treat their employees way better than Walmart), I have been involved in many cases against both of them.
Now I’m not one to give employers legal advice. I only represent injured workers. But to me it’s clear that if you are worried about workers’ compensation costs in Illinois, the best thing you can probably do is pay your employees well and treat them well. That doesn’t mean that workers won’t ever get injured or file claims. What it does mean is that they are less likely to pursue cases or bring a suspect claim against you.
If you’ve ever been to a Costco, you’ll see mostly very happy employees. It’s a great place to work. As a result, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Website, they’ve had only 700 work injury cases here in the history of their company. That’s an incredibly low number.
Whether it’s Walmart or various staffing agencies that don’t always treat their workers well, the number of cases are way higher. When you don’t like your employer, you are more likely to bring a case. Many staffing agencies treat their workers as disposable. Treating them kinder and paying them better would work out better for them financially in the long run.
I’d bet I will get a Costco worker call me at some point and like any other case, if they have a legitimate injury and need help we will be happy to help them get the best lawyer for their case. But unlike cases against Walmart or a temp service where I get extra joy being involved against them, I won’t think of them any different than most of the places we take on.