WORK-LIFE BALANCE / SEP. 08, 2015
version 16, draft 16

8 Strange Ways to Get Fired From Walmart

Everyone can agree that Walmart is an absolute of a mammoth company and the numbers can back that notion up. Even though this past year saw Walmart creating some policy changes, things are still not going well for them as they employ over 2 million people and the staff turnover rate is about 50%. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are some incredibly weird and strange ways that people have gotten fired. From chasing down a shoplifter to being of a certain race; these eight ways people have gotten fired will shock and amaze you.

See Also: 7 Most Ridiculous Reasons People Were Fired

1. Defending Yourself

It was Black Friday in 2011, when a Walmart greeter, Jan Sullivan, saw her 22 years of being a Walmart greeter end suddenly. The 73 year old woman spent 22 years of her life working at Walmart, stocking shelves, being a cashier and greeting customers. On that Black Friday in 2011 customers were being especially aggressive and as a woman who was trying to exit through the entrance door where Sullivan was situated, Sullivan was pushed. According to the Tampa Times, Sullivan reached out to steady herself by grabbing a woman’s sweater. Three days later she was walked to the door and escorted out of Walmart. Sullivan has since lost her house, car and is currently in thousands of dollars worth of debt.  

2. Buying Toys for Charity

Employees at Walmart should think twice about using their employee discount, especially if they plan on helping those in need. At least that is what we are led to believe after finding out that 20 year old Tara Osmun got fired from a New Jersey Walmart store for buying toys for charity using her employee discount. Osmun purchased over $1000 in toys for a raffle that the fire department was holding to raise money, and saved a whopping $100 with her discount, according to Firehouse. According to company policy the discount is only to be used for yourself and family and Osmun was promptly fired. Not only was she out of a job, but Walmart threatened to pursue criminal theft charges if she didn’t pay back the money. Luckily the community stepped in to save the day.

3. Stopping a Theft

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There is one lesson to be learned from this next point, always let a shoplifter get away with stealing if you happen to be a Walmart employee. If you try to stop the shoplifter by chasing them or otherwise disengaging them from stealing, you will in fact be fired. Take for example Josh Rutner who was fired back in 2009 from a Florida Walmart. Rutner was made aware that a man was stealing a package of golf clubs and attempted to chase him into the parking lot. Rutner was fired the next day, in which Walmart quoted their “no-chase” policy that is put in place to protect both customers and employees, according to Ocala. Because he broke this policy, Rutner is ineligible to be hired at any other Walmart branches ever. How about the four employees that were fired in Utah after stopping a robber from stealing a computer? After taking the robber into the office, the robber pulled a gun on the employees, who proceeded to wrestle it out of his hands and hold him until police came. According to Walmart policy employees are not allowed to engage with armed suspects and all four employees were fired immediately. Then there was the firing of Heather Ravenstein, customer service manager in 2010. Ravenstein attempted to follow a man into the parking lot to confirm that he was carrying a stolen computer. The man turned on her, punched and kicked her and then dropped the computer. She was fired later that day as according to policy it was not her job to try and stop someone from stealing.

4. Praying

According to ABC News, a pharmacist who was employed at Walmart got fired for praying with a crying customer. Caught on video was the pharmacist placing her hand on top of the customer’s hand who was visibly upset. The pharmacist sued the giant conglomerate for religious discrimination and claimed that she was merely comforting the woman, not praying. Anhue Doan had been labeled a trouble maker after bringing in drinks into the pharmacy, constantly using her cellphone and practicing her religious beliefs before the incident, and Walmart says it was only a matter of time before she was terminated. 

5. Having Cancer

In 2010 Joseph Casias was terminated from his position at a Walmart in Michigan for using medical marijuana. Casias was diagnosed with both sinus cancer and a brain tumor that was pushing against his skull. In 2008 his doctor recommended medical marijuana and wrote him a prescription. Casias’s boss stumbled across this piece of information and shortly after Casias no longer was employed at Walmart. It didn’t seem to matter to Walmart that Casias never showed up high to work nor did he ever smoke at work. Luckily the ACLU took up his case and sued Walmart from wrongful dismissal.

6. Being an Immigrant

If you thought the days of racism and discrimination were over with, think again, at least when it comes to one Walmart in Colorado. In 2010 a total of ten West African immigrants filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that they lost their jobs at a Colorado Walmart because their supervisors wanted to give their jobs to locals. In 2009 a meeting had been called by a new manager at the store, only for the West African employees to be told “I don’t like some of the faces I see here. There are people in Eagle County who need jobs" the New York Times reports. 

7. Paying for Merchandise

This goes down in history as one of the strangest cases of firing we have ever seen, and not just at Walmart. The story goes like this, as according to Courthouse News. Mary Hill Bonin, who was an employee of Walmart, was shopping at a different Walmart with her husband, an immigrant who was not yet a U.S citizen. After struggling to use the self-serve checkout option to pay for their chicken bones, which cost $2.90, they asked an employee for help. The employee told them everything was okay, handed them their receipt and told them to get on their way. The security guard at the door accused the couple of stealing the bones as they went to leave the store and things quickly got out of hand. Both Bonin and her husband were arrested and held in jail without a cause. Bonin’s husband ended up being deported and Bonin was denied bail and held in jail. The security guard called Bonin’s place of employment to ensure they knew she was accused of shoplifting, therefore ensuring Bonin would never be hired again. Bonin lost her husband, job, home and car, only to have Walmart drop all false charges and even go so far as to refuse to refund the $2.90 for the chicken bones.

8. Plumbing Problems

It appears that workers don’t have to do anything to get fired, other than be employed in this next case. CNN reported that in April 2015, five Walmart stores across California laid off over 2,200 employees for plumbing issues. Employees were notified just mere hours before the stores shut down. The most interesting thing about this story is that at the time of termination, Walmart had not obtained any work permits from the city, a necessity if they were planning on doing any plumbing work. Workers were offered two month’s severance but that wasn’t enough for those who depend on their jobs day after day.  

See Also: Disabled in the Workplace: Walmart Sued For Employee Discrimination

The moral of these stories is that it isn’t always sunshine and roses working for Walmart and despite what the population may think, it is clear that it is indeed quite easy to get fired. Whether these incidents were to set examples for other employees, mistakes of the company or legitimate firings, they all have one thing in common; they are downright strange. Remember, before signing any paperwork for any job, it is best to read that incredibly boring handbook of policies and procedures, because you never know what weird policies companies have.

Do you think Walmart is a good employer or not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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