Walmart manager fired after stepping more than 10ft out of his store to catch shoplifter
Don Watson from Prattville, Alabama, was working a night shift when he caught the thief outside in the car park
He was punched in the face during the debacle
But instead of being rewarded for his actions, he says he was fired for not following company protocols on handling shoplifting situations
Watson said he had been trained not to pursue a thief more than ten feet outside the store, but it’s a rule he had broken before
Walmart has stood by its decision
A former Walmart manager has hit out at the retailer, claiming he was unfairly fired for stepping 10ft out of the store and pinning a shoplifter to the ground.
Don Watson from Prattville, Alabama, told AL.com he was working a night shift when he caught the thief outside in the car park. He was punched in the face during the debacle.
But instead of being rewarded for recovering more than $1,000 worth of stolen goods, he says he was fired for not following company protocols on handling shoplifting situations.
Out of work: Don Watson from Prattville, Alabama, has hit out at Walmart, claiming he was unfairly fired for pinning a shoplifter to the ground
Indeed, Watson said he had been trained not to pursue a thief more than 10ft outside the store, but it’s a rule he had broken before and that many others break – especially when trouble ensues.
‘It was just kind of strange,’ Watson said of his firing last month.
‘It was strange that they came to this conclusion after 27 days. I thought I was protecting the company.’
Walmart spokesperson Aaron Mullins, defended the company’s action, stating that there are set policies regarding how associates should deal with certain situations.
‘It is a tough situation anytime we have an associate that does something that unfortunately puts himself in danger,’ he said.
‘We don’t think there is any amount of stolen merchandise that is worth anyone’s life. Associates are trained to follow certain security measures.’
Recalling the incident, Watson said he heard an alarm from an emergency exit during his shift on January 4, and decided to check out what was happening.
He saw 46-year-old Roderick Gray, who was known to be a shoplifter, outside with a buggy full of unpaid-for items.
Heroic act: Watson was working a night shift at this store when he caught the thief outside in the car park
When he caught up with him, Gray allegedly grabbed Watson, struck him in the face and dragged him to the ground.
After managing to get free, Watson pinned Gray down. Security personnel from a housing complex across the street then came to help until police arrived.
According to court records Gray had $1,118 worth of merchandise on him when we was apprehended and was later charged with first degree robbery.
Before Watson caught him, Gray had allegedly already been caught on CCTV stealing approximately $3,500 of merchandise over the previous nine days.
Despite catching the culprit, Watson was penalized for his actions and fired 27 days later on the grounds of ‘gross misconduct’.
The offense means he cannot be hired at another WalMart of Sam’s Club and he believes it could affect his chances of seeking future employment.
Watson is now attempting to appeal his firing to Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
When asked if he would take his old job back, Watson said: ‘I would have to. I went from making a decent living, making almost $50,000 a year, to nothing.