O’Reilly Auto Parts fined for allowing COVID-19 symptomatic employees at work in New Mexico


LOVINGTON, NM. – The New Mexico Environment Department is fining the Springfield-based auto parts store over $240,000 for violating workplace safety laws.

According to a press release from NMED, a store allowed employees with COVID-19 symptoms – who ultimately tested positive for COVID-19 to continue to work, failing to properly screen employees for COVID-19 and not following proper cleaning disinfection protocols.

NMED is fining the company $242,827.20 for the violations.

Three employees of the store tested positive for COVID-19, and one employee in her 40s died from the virus.

“Providing employees with a false sense of protection from COVID-19 by putting policies in place to comply with state law and then not following them is unconscionable. Had O’Reilly management complied with corporate policies, it’s possible this tragic situation could have been avoided,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney.

NMED says O’Reilly has 15 business days from the date the citations were issued to pay the assessed penalties or contest the citations before the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Commission.

Ozarks First reached out to O’Reilly to comment on the story. Below is a statement from Mark Merz, VP of IR, Reporting & Planning at O’Reilly Auto Parts.

We take these matters extremely seriously, as our number one priority since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety and wellness of our team members and our customers. We have long instituted appropriate COVID related best practice policies and protocols consistent with CDC guidelines, as well as government mandated protocols, and continue to evolve our protective measures as new information becomes available, all to ensure the safety and wellness of our team members and customers. At this time we have not received a copy of this departments investigative materials, but are actively working to obtain them. We do not agree with the conclusions, or proposed fines, described in the citations. There is a formal process for contesting these matters and at this time we intend to follow that process.

Mark Merz, VP of IR, Reporting & Planning at O’Reilly Auto Parts

In January, NMED settled two citations with O’Reilly Auto Parts for violations of the public health order at a Santa Fe store. The Department says in that case, O’Reilly paid $79,200 in penalties that go to the state’s general fund.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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