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Fired for Doing the Right Thing

I’ve said before that corporate HR departments are more concerned about deflecting blame and not allowing the company to be sued than they are about doing the right thing.

Here’s a case of a Home Depot employee losing his job for doing exactly that:

Last week, the 24-year-old department manager confronted a man who was standing by a soda machine in front of the Murfreesboro store off Old Fort Parkway holding a crowbar and a wad of cash. When the suspect started running, Chester said his instincts took over.

He was fired Monday for violations of company policy in the incident.”When he ran, I ran after him,” he said. Chester caught the thief and restrained him in the parking lot until police arrived.

Chester was shocked to find out that for managers and most employees, catching and detaining thieves is against company policy.

Yep.  It’s against company policy, because the thief might get hurt and sue home depot.  The employee might get hurt, and sue home depot.  It could be a massive orgy of everyone suing everyone else!

Such things are nightmares to HR executives in large companies, and a few lost dollars is better than a lawsuit or bad publicity.

But even if he had known how the company wanted him to act, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

“He had a crowbar, and what if he had come inside and gone after customers or the employees working at the registers?” Chester asked. “I’d rather have him coming at me than going after any of the customers.”

Sounds like a good guy to me.  A pity he has to become another victim of corporate cowardice.  Making a “citizens arrest” is a minefield that people should be very wary of, and unlike a police officer, we don’t have qualified immunity.   But I hate to see someone who does it right, and helps get a loser off the streets, punished for his good deed.  As a society, we need to encourage bold behavior like this, not punish it.

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