A clerk at the Kwik Shop at 14th and Adams Street in Lincoln was severely beaten during a robbery last weekend when a robber reached for cash in a cash register, pushed through a barrier and jumped over the counter to beat the clerk.
News reports about that store reveal a clerk was murdered in 2016, a clerk was assaulted in 2020 and the store was robbed in 2008. The Kwik Shop at 14th and Adams is the proverbial poster child for the failure of the federal government, the State of Nebraska and the City of Lincoln to effectively protect convenience store workers.
How the federal government fails in convenience store clerks
In the wake of the July 2016 murder of a clerk at the 14th and Adams Kwik Shop, I wrote about OSHA’s failure to implement safety standards for convenience stores. The Indiana Department of Labor did a study about convenience stores and showed barriers that prevented robbers from reaching into cash registers and jumping behind counters deterred robbers.
Despite the history of violence at the store, the Kwik Shop at 14th and Adams Street still lacks those protections.
An OSHA rule would let OSHA cite convenience stores specifically for failing to protect workers from violence.
How the state of Nebraska fails convenience store clerks
The state of Nebraska has failed to implement and statutory law or regulations that protect convenience store clerks. In theory workers compensation laws regulate working conditions by making employers pay for injuries to their employees. But retail workers are not compensated for solely mental injuries (known in workers compensation lingo as “mental-mental”). So for example, if a convenience store clerk has a gun pointed in their face, but not physically assaulted, that mental trauma is not covered by workers’ compensation.
But if convenience store owners did have to pay for mental trauma injuries to their employees, they would find ways to minimize the chance of those mental trauma injuries. Measures like bulletproof glass would make it harder for robbers to jump over counters and to threaten workers with guns.
The State of Nebraska has workers compensation for solely mental injuries for first responders. Recent legislation has expanded the number of employees who are deemed first responders and has made it easier for some first responders to prove their cases for solely mental injuries. No legislation has been introduced that would allow retail workers or convenience store clerks from receiving mental-mental benefits.
How the City of Lincoln fails convenience store clerks
Some cities have implemented safety standards for convenience store clerks. That list does not include Lincoln, Nebraska. I think public safety officials in Lincoln have also displayed a somewhat cavalier attitude about convenience store violence. After the murder of the clerk at the 14th and Adams, Kwik Shop, then Public Safety Director Tom Casady talked about how rare convenience store murders and shootings were. This despite the fact that same store was robbed in 2008. Lincoln’s then police chief, Tom Bliemeister stated that he was unsure about why Lincoln has above-average murders in 2016. Why that question may have some merit, research was clear about the risks to employees working late night retail. That store had previously been subject to a robbery. I think public safety officials in Lincoln don’t think about how public safety is often workplace safety.