As one in four Americans are now under stay-at-home orders as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, all but essential businesses have been ordered to close to help slow the spread of the virus. However, the video game retailer GameStop opted to remain open well past the time when most retailers had shuttered their doors, ostensibly for the benefit of customers seeking to keep busy during the quarantine. In a staff memo obtained and published by Kotaku, the video game retailer stated:
“Due to the products we carry that enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home, we believe GameStop is classified as ‘essential retail’ and therefore is able to remain open during this time…”
However, in the face of widespread backlash from employees and the public, the company closed the doors of all of their California stores last Friday. Two days later, they closed all of their U.S. locations.
While GameStop stated in public-facing documents and messages to customers that they had assembled an internal taskforce to fight COVID-19 and maintain the health and safety of customers and employees, internal communications and employee whistleblowers have conveyed a different story.
Some employees stated that hand sanitizer was deemed to be the responsibility of local regional managers – many of whom were unable to find any in the shortage caused by the pandemic – and that some stores had cleaning supplies on backorder for months.
GameStop will not pay employees during the shutdown, and instead recommended that they use the time as personal time and/or to file for unemployment.
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