Last week the Omaha police shot and killed a potential mass shooter at a Target store in west Omaha. Employees were traumatized and at least one employee, who was interviewed by Omaha.com, quit after the shooting.
But while Target employees undoubtedly suffered lost wages and medical expenses related to the trauma, those expenses will not be covered by workers’ compensation Nebraska.
The Omaha Police officer who shot the potential mass shooter likely suffered mental trauma as well. Under Nebraska law, medical expenses, lost pay and any permanent disability will be covered for police officers and other first-responders under the Nebraska workers’ compensation act. The officer may also be entitled to benefits for the injury in addition to workers’ compensation.
I think the Omaha Police officer should get workers’ compensation benefits for the mental trauma of the shooting. But so should the Target employees.
State Senator Carol Blood introduced legislation that could potentially cover those Target employees and other retail employees who are exposed to violence on the job. I’ve long written about the ongoing threat posed to convenience store clerks and their uncompensated mental injuries.
Retail workers get paid roughly half of what police officers make in Nebraska. That ratio excludes benefits likes defined benefit pensions which guarantee a livable a retirement income. First responders also garner respect and even reverence from the majority of society while retail workers are an after thought at best.
Police also train to respond to violence unlike retail workers. Although it’s arguable that any amount of training can prepare someone for the trauma of shooting someone who or witnessing a shooting. The hazy and undefined concept of “resilience training” is incorporated into Nebraska’s mental-mental statute at Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-101.01(4)(d). In practice “resilience training” serves as a way to argue that first responders weren’t didn’t suffer a mental-mental injury because they had training.
State Senator Tony Vargas introduced legislation to make “resilience training” irrelevant to whether a first responder is covered for a mental-mental injury under the act. I think this is a good idea. If this kind of logic applied to physical injuries you could have packing houses arguing that the overuse injuries weren’t work-related because workers stretched before their shift. The bill is a step towards treating mental trauma injuries the same as physical injuries.