Store destroying merchandise over employee's infection

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

A good employee may hesitate to call in sick.

But because a woman still went to work when she felt ill, her employer closed down for a week, and will lose thousands of dollars in merchandise.

There were fears the woman hay have the M.R.S.A. bacteria, and she came into work on Saturday.

That's why the Liz Claiborne outlet store in Michigan City decided to close its doors, and destroy all its merchandise.

They still plan to do that, even though tests came back negative for the drug-resistant staph infection.

They'll disinfect the Lighthouse Place store, destroy the clothes, and won't reopen until next Friday!

Meanwhile, just across the street, county health department officials point out staph only survives environmentally for 24 hours, and then isn't harmful.

So the decision to destroy all the merchandise may be unnecessary, and, they say, it creates more confusion for the public.

“The unfortunate thing is when that happens it leads people to think there is an emergency and there is no emergency,” said Joanne Hardacker, Nursing Supervisor for the LaPorte County Health Department,
“We want to assure people that from what we have learned there is no risk to shoppers, patrons, employees of that particular store.”

The Liz Claiborne chain hasn't commented any further on why they're destroying likely hundreds of thousands of dollars of clothes, or whether they consulted any health officials before making that decision.

They also haven’t said what the infection was; they've just said it's not M.R.S.A.

But they assure there will be no sign of whatever it was, when the store re-opens next week.

Hardacker sees this as an opportunity to educate the public on M.R.S.A., following the flood of recent news coverage.

“I think the attention it has drawn has led people under the impression that there's an outbreak or something new happened. Staph is not new; it's been with us for a long time. M.R.S.A. is simply a drug-resistant form, it's a little bit more difficult to treat, and we've been dealing with that for the last 30 years,” Hardacker said.

Hardacker recommends people concerned about M.R.S.A. should contact their local health officials, or visit a reputable website.

Links to some of those can be found below.

The company did not say how much merchandise is in the store, but its value likely runs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The store remained closed Thursday, and the company says they plan to re-open on or about Nov. 16th. It is one of 76 the New York City-based retailer operates at outlet malls in the United States.

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