That probably means some lawyers are trying to find clients to bring cases asserting that if companies like Wal-Mart claim to be monitoring and regulating those conditions, they should take responsibility when things go tragically wrong.
Why would American lawyers be involved if all the plaintiffs are families in Bangladesh? Because, as with the 1984 gas explosion disaster at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, the potential defendants would be Americans with deep pockets. Of course, the link between that Bangladesh sweatshop and an American retailer where its products end up is more tenuous than the link between Union Carbide’s American headquarters and its wholly owned plant in India. Yet it is hardly an impossible stretch, and there have to be some lawyers who think it is worth a shot.
So, it’s just a hunch, but I would bet there is a good story in Bangladesh about American lawyers trolling the neighborhoods where those workers lived looking for cases.
3. What happens to the most abhorred workplace screwups?
Last week a bus driver who fell asleep in March 2011 on a section of I-95 in the Bronx — which resulted in a crash that killed 15 passengers coming back from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut — was acquitted of manslaughter charges. The jury apparently decided that driving while sleep-deprived was not the same as driving while alcohol-impaired.
Bus driver Ophadell Williams’s situation reminds me of a type of story I would like to see: What happens to people who screw up so horrendously on the job that, although they may not get tossed in prison, they risk becoming the equivalent of workplace lepers?
Has Williams, 41, been able to find any way to support his family since the crash 18 months ago?
What about the person, or people, directly responsible for throwing the wrong switches that screwed up Nasdaq’s launch of the Facebook IPO? Or the J.P. Morgan traders who lost the firm billions in London? Did they lose their jobs? Assuming they did, have they been able to find employment?
Last week we heard about the fate of another worker whose mistake made headlines — the nurse who fell for a prank and believed that a caller seeking to learn the condition of Kate Middleton was indeed the Queen. The embarrassed nurse committed suicide within days. What about some of the others who have made far more consequential mistakes on the job?