The outdoor equipment co-op REI is facing a backlash over its handling of coronavirus cases among its employees, with some nervous workers pushing for more transparency as stores reopen.
An employee at a store in Grand Rapids, Mich., told colleagues about testing positive on July 2 for Covid-19 — a result that managers did not acknowledge to workers until July 9, several days after the store had reopened. The employee described being asked to stay quiet about the positive test.
REI changed its notification policy on Tuesday to allow managers to inform employees of known Covid-19 cases among their colleagues, after employees created an online petition accusing the co-op of prioritizing sales above workers. Eric Artz, the chief executive, said in a companywide meeting last week that there were 18 active Covid-19 cases across some 13,000 employees.
REI, which has gradually reopened its stores after shutting all of them down in March, is one of many retailers struggling to establish pandemic protocols that balance privacy and safety. “This situation and its challenges are incredibly fluid,” said Rob Discher, an REI spokesperson.