Fired Walmart worker Kristopher Oswald said he tried to come to the aid of a woman he saw being attacked. Walmart said the worker violated the company’s safety policy, but the incident underscores the gray areas in such matters.
Retail giant Walmart has done an about-face after getting flak for its handling of an employee who tried to be a good Samaritan.
It all started in the early hours of Sunday morning. According to the Associated Press, Kristopher Oswald, a Walmart worker in Hartland, Mich., was taking a break in his car when he said he saw a man grabbing a woman.
The nighttime temporary seasonal worker said he asked her if she needed help and then intervened before Livingston County sheriff’s deputies could arrive. He said that he sustained punches from the man and that two other men jumped him as well.
“This was just intimidation, aggression, and bullying that I saw from a male belligerent suspect on a defenseless woman,” Mr. Oswald told WXYZ-TV in Detroit.
But Walmart said he violated the company’s safety policy. According to AP, Oswald received termination paperwork that stated: “after a violation of company policy on his lunch break, it was determined to end his temporary assignment.”
“We had to make a tough decision, one that we don’t take lightly, and he’s no longer with the company,” Walmart spokeswoman Ashley Hardie told the AP.
National media picked up news of the firing early Friday, prompting outrage on Twitter and media message boards. The news reports forced the company to talk to witnesses and review the police report and video footage, says Brooke Buchanan, another spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer.
Walmart concluded he did nothing wrong, she says. And late in the day, Walmart announced it was willing to rehire Oswald.
“We realized his intentions were good, and we’ve contacted him to offer him his job back and welcome him back to the store,” she says. “Sometimes we don’t get everything right, and each circumstance is different.”