Walmart is the largest private employer in the world, boasting a staggering 2.1 million workers — more than 1.4 million of which are in the U.S.
And with an annual turnover rate that exceeds 50%, it should be no surprise that some of its workers have been told to pack up their stuff under strange circumstances.
Here’s a collection of stories about employees that got fired from Walmart that were reported and confirmed by the media.
Have your own story about being fired from Walmart or any other big retailer? Tell us in the comments or shoot an email over to kbhasin@.
Posting a joke on MySpace
David Noordewier, a worker at a Michigan Walmart, posted this joke on his MySpace in 2007, and promptly got canned, according to the Consumerist:
“Drop a bomb on all the Walmarts, trailer parks, ghettos, monster truck shows, and retarded fake “pro wrestling” events, and the average I.Q. score would probably double.”
Walmart claimed on Noordewier’s exit interview that it was a threat, and checked “Gross Misconduct – Integrity Issue,” which is defined as “Theft, Violent Act, Dishonesty, or Misappropriation of Company Assets.”
Recording your colleagues’ phone calls
Bruce Gabbard was a computer security specialist at Walmart until he was fired in 2007 for taping phone conversations between the company’s PR people and a New York Times reporter.
But the drama really started afterwards. Gabbard went to the Wall Street Journal claiming that he was merely a small part of a huge operation by Walmart to spy on its employees and stockholders.
Walmart fired back and sued, accusing Gabbard of leaking trade secrets, such as a plan to increase the company’s stock price called “Project Red.” Gabbard put together a lawsuit of his own, saying that Walmart was harassing him in its attempt to force him back into an Arkansas court after he moved to Oklahoma.
Chasing a shoplifter through the parking lot
An “asset protection officer” at a Florida Walmart named Josh Rutner was fired in 2009 for chasing a knife-wielding thief across the parking lot in an attempt to stop him, according to Ocala.com.
But doing that was against the company’s “no-chase” policy, which Rutner was aware of. Here’s what he told the Star-Banner:
Rutner said it boiled down to doing what was right or following policy. For him, it was an easy choice. “I couldn’t let him get away,” Rutner said. “That’s wrong.”
Walmart said the policy is there to protect its customers and employees, and that the offense made Rutner ineligible to be rehired.
The shoplifter initially got away, but was caught the next day and the merchandise he stole — a pack of golf balls — was recovered.
Stopping a a gun-toting robber
Four employees were fired from a Utah Walmart because they disarmed a robber that pulled a gun on them, according to the Consumerist.
The shoplifter was trying to steal a netbook, but was caught and taken to the “loss-prevention room,” which was where he brandished a handgun on the four employees. They wrestled the weapon from him and held him until police arrived.
Walmart policy prohibits engagement with armed suspects, so the four workers were fired. Here’s the exact wording, according to KSL.com:
A copy obtained by KSL shows employees are allowed to use “reasonable force” to limit movements of struggling suspects. If a weapon comes out, however, associates must “disengage” and “withdraw,” the policy states.
Being an African immigrant while locals need jobs
A group of 10 male West African immigrants filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010 which alleged that they got fired from Colorado stores because their supervisors wanted to give their jobs to locals.
Here’s their account of what happened, according to the New York Times:
In January 2009, six complainants said, a new manager at the Avon store called a meeting of workers — virtually all West African — and said: “I don’t like some of the faces I see here. There are people in Eagle County who need jobs.”
Walmart said that they were a part of a larger group — from lots of different backgrounds — that were laid off after management changes.
Being a cancer patient that legally uses medical marijuana
Associate Joseph Casias was terminated from his position at a Michigan Walmart in 2010 when his bosses found out that he had been using medical marijuana, according to MSNBC.
Casias was a sinus cancer patient and also had a brain tumor pressed against his skull. His doctor had been prescribing the treatment for him since 2008.
He said that he never showed up to work high, and never smoked at work.
The ACLU took up Casias’ case later that year, suing Walmart for wrongful termination.
Paying for chicken neck bones, then being accused and arrested for stealing them
Mary Hill Bonin was fired from her job at an Alabama Walmart after an incident over $2.90 worth of chicken neck bones, according to Courthouse News.
Bonin and her husband had trouble with the self-check out, and an employee helped them pay. As they were leaving, security confronted them about it.
But that was just the start. Here’s what happened from there, according to the complaint dug up by Courthouse News:
Adamsville Wal-Mart is believed to have called INS and had Mary Hill Bonin’s husband deported. Mary Hill Bonin was denied bail and was not taken before a magistrate. Wal-Mart and Adamsville police failed to make a proper investigation causing Mary Hill Bonin to be arrested and to remain in jail without probable cause.
The complaint also said that Bonin lost her house, car and all her belongings as a result of the ordeal.
Testifying in a personal injury case
Andi Bailey was a witness in a slip-and-fall case against Walmart and said she got fired for it, according to the Southeast Texas Record.
A lawsuit she filed against Walmart in Texas said that after testifying, she had called in sick on two separate days to take care of her ill child, and got permission from her manager. A week-and-a-half later, she was fired for missing work without permission. The lawsuit asks for $1 million in damages.
Stopping someone from stealing a $600 computer
In 2010, customer service manager Heather Ravenstein followed a man out of a Walmart in an effort to gain confirmation that he had bought a computer that we was carrying, and she was fired over it, according to the Wichita Eagle.
The man kicked her and punched her in the shoulder, then gave up, dropped the computer and ran. Later that day, she was fired. He boss told her that Walmart policy prohibits anyone that isn’t a manager or part of the asset protection department from trying to stop someone from stealing, and that the penalty is termination.
Greeting customers with a semi-nude photo of yourself
65-year-old greeter Dean L. Wooten was fired from an Iowa Walmart in 2005 for greeting customers with a near-nude photo of himself with a carefully placed Walmart bag, according to USA Today.
Wooten, who had worked at the store for seven years, said that his friend photoshopped his head on to another guy’s body for the pic, and he thought it was hilarious. His manager told him to stop, but when he did it again five days later, Wooten was canned.
Sending an email describing the pagan origins of Christmas
Walmart via Flickr
A Walmart customer service rep was fired amidst a controversy that riled up conservatives in 2005 around the usage of “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” in the stores, according to The Register.
The employee, identified only as “Kirby,” described the pagan origins of Christmas in the email response to a complaint about the issue. Here’s what it said, from World Net Daily:
“Walmart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than “Christmas” which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with “christmas” red and white are actually a representation of of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world.”
Screaming at a lesbian co-worker that she will go to hell
Tanisha Matthews was fired from an Illinois Walmart in 2005 after blowing up at her lesbian co-worker, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
After a discussion about homosexuality and God, Matthews confronted a lesbian employee, cited only as Amy. From the Sun-Times:
In her statement, Amy reported that Matthews was “screaming over her” that God does not accept gays; they should not “be on earth”; and they will “go to hell” because they are not “right in the head.” Five other employees confirmed that Matthews had said gays are sinners who are going to hell.
Walmart held a three-month investigation and fired her after concluding that she had violated its Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. Matthews, an Apostolic Christian, then sued Walmart, claiming that it was discriminating against her because of her religion and race. She lost the case.
Buying toys for charity with the employee discount
20-year-old Tara Osmun was fired from a New Jersey Walmart for using her employee discount to buy toys that she donated to charity, according to Firehouse.com.
Osmun bought nearly $1,000 worth of toys and gave them to a volunteer fire department, who was having a raffle to raise money. She saved $108 with her employee discount.
The store’s policy is that employee discounts can only be used for yourself or your family. Walmart threatened criminal theft charges if she didn’t pay the money back, but the community offered to step up to help.
Using self-defense after getting punched by a customer
69-year-old greeter Ed Bauman was fired from a Florida Walmart in 2010 for defending himself after a customer punched him, according to WESH Orlando.
The customer had set off the alarm when he went out the doors, and when Bauman followed him to see his receipt, a punch was thrown. Walmart cited Bauman’s actions as “Gross Misconduct,” and sent the greeter home.
Here’s a video of the incident:
Sourced from businessinsider.com