04/26/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Walmart's Sick Day Policy Hurts Workers, Families, and Customers

Walmart's irresponsible sick leave policy encourages workers to come in to work when they are sick, which risks spreading diseases like the flu to other employees and the public.

Last fall, Walmart was exposed for its track record of giving employees "demerits" that can lead to termination when they call in sick. In addition, full-time Walmart associates aren't able to use their accrued sick leave for the first day they are sick. Walmart also ignored government recommendations to let employees suffering from H1N1 stay home without fear of punitive action. Walmart's policies and actions create a working environment where employees feel they are faced with a choice between going to work sick (and potentially spreading the illness) and keeping their job.

Patricia from Ohio faced such a choice and had to work with pink eye so severe that one of her eyes was swollen shut and she could barely see. She told her managers she needed to go home because she was contagious, but Walmart informed her that she would get a "demerit" if she worked less than four hours. Patricia couldn't afford any more "demerits" because she had already taken sick leave time for a rotator cuff injury she sustained on the job.

We've heard similar stories from workers across the country. Beatrice enjoyed her two years as a greeter at Walmart, but twice was refused bathroom breaks. As a result she suffered a bladder infection and was chastised for taking time off to recover. We made a video of Beatrice's incredibly moving story.

Because of Patricia, Beatrice, and all of Walmart's employees, Wake Up Walmart is working to raise awareness about Walmart's irresponsible sick leave policy and demand change. Today marks the launch of a week of action lead by Wake Up Walmart and a coalition of advocacy groups like calling on Walmart to change its harmful sick day policy.

You can learn more and help us spread the message by going to Wake Up Walmart.