St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Some are unable to escape the heat even though they work indoors. NewsChannel 5 received a tip from an employee at the Family Dollar store on Kingshighway that the air conditioning unit broke days ago, leaving employees and shoppers to deal with the heat both in and out the store
The steady stream of customers entering the Family Dollar store did not quite get the shopping experience they wanted.
"It's hot in there, it's real hot, it is very hot," said shopper Geryl Harris.
According to a manager at the store, employees and customers have been sweltering with no air conditioning for five days. NewsChannel 5 attempted to speak with the employees, considering the fact that one of them called the station to bring the situation to our attention. When we got there, nobody wanted to talk on camera for fear of losing their jobs.
Customers, on the other hand, were willing and ready to talk.
"We look forward to going in there, they are cheap, you know?" says customer Jerome Davis. "So air would make a difference too you know."
The store manager said the highest temperature he saw inside the store over the past five days was 102 degrees. To put this in perspective, temperatures in a glass factory the temperature typically hover around 100 degrees.
Although the main air conditioning unit is broken, the company is trying to keep the place cool. There are three portable AC units inside, but employees and customers said they aren't helping much.
"It wasn't doing no good, it wasn't cooling the store," says Harris.
Shoppers said a little heat won't keep them from good prices.
"A little sweat saving some money, I think I will deal with saving the money," says Davis.
"They shouldn't have to work like that so somebody really needs to get that situation rectified immediately," says shopper Ashley Hemmeain.
NewsChannel 5 tried calling Family Dollar's corporate office in North Carolina and left several messages, but those calls were not returned.
NewsChannel 5 called OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and there aren't any specific rules about indoor temperatures for workplaces. However, a spokesman said employers do have a general duty to provide a safe workplace. If it gets too hot, the employer should provide a cool place to go or provide more breaks.
We also consulted the St. Louis city health department. City health officials cannot do much for the workers but are concerned about the coolers with perishable food. They say the department will send someone over to the Family Dollar store Tuesday.