After employees claimed Publix would not allow them to wear masks and gloves because they could “scare away customers” during the coronavirus outbreak, the Lakeland-based grocery giant now says some associates will be allowed to wear personal protective equipment.
According to a statement sent to WJCT Monday afternoon, Publix director of communications Maria Brous says the company is changing its policy to allow masks and gloves as an option to workers who aren’t normally required to wear them.
“We are deeply proud of how our dedicated associates are taking care of our customers and each other through this unprecedented and challenging time,” reads the statement.
Publix says they’re still encouraging employees to wash their hands and avoid touching their eyes. They will also provide their employees with the gloves and masks, though they admit supplies are running low.
Following the announcement that an employee at a Publix store in Georgia tested positive for COVID-19, the company announced it would begin installing plexiglass barriers at registers, customer service desks and pharmacies.
While the gloves and face masks are a good first step, a recent New York Times article said that Publix, which reported higher earnings than Nike in 2018, has an estimated 89,000 employees without paid sick leave.
A petition is also circulating that calls for Publix to provide hazard pay.
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