Say What? Staff Fired for Heroic Actions at Denver King Soopers
Let me start off by saying that what you're about to read is merely this radio guy's opinion on the situation: this whole thing stinks. I'm not a lawyer, I have no affiliation to any of the staff in this story or the store, nor the union involved - though I do admit I was once part of this union as a teenager about 25 years ago while working as a cashier at Safeway in Parker, Colorado. None of that matters in this context.
Here are the facts, provided by witnesses and confirmed by surveillance video. A shoplifter attempted to steal a cell phone at a King Soopers store in Greenwood Village. He used a box cutter to cut the security tag off its packaging and then made his way toward the exit to leave the store.
An employee confronted him, at which point he slipped and fell, dropping the phone and the box cutter. The employee saw the box cutter and shouted "he's got a knife!" Four co-workers heard her shout as the man got up from the ground, grabbed the phone and box cutter and started to run toward them on his way to the exit.
One of the staffers saw an opportunity to wrap the man up and take him down, and did so, knocking the box cutter out of his hand. Then another co-worker helped hold him down while another one called the police.
Heroes, right? Not so fast.
King Soopers has a policy that employees should not confront shoplifters in order to prioritize their safety and the safety of their co-workers and shoppers. The five employees who were involved in the incident were fired 10 days later.
In a statement to FOX31 in Denver, King Soopers said:
We value our hardworking associates and nothing can be more important than their safety and that of our customers. We appreciate that in this instance their actions may have been well intended however, they violated the very policies that are in place for everyone’s safety. Nothing in our stores is worth sacrificing that core value and their safe return home.
They're all awaiting an arbitration hearing as they navigate the process through their union representatives at United Food and Commercial Workers International, Local 7. It's been six months since this incident took place.
Here's some food for thought - and the "opinion" part of this story.
The statement says "nothing can be more important than their safety and that of our customers." You see a guy running toward you and/or others with a box cutter... what do you do? It's not like they chased him out the front door of the store. They made a split second decision that everyone - even the employer that terminated them - agrees was well intended.
Did they break the letter of the policy? Again, I'm not a lawyer so it's not for me to say. But I do think there's a fine line between being proactive and reactive, where this feels more like the latter in this case. When faced with making a split second decision to defend yourself or do nothing, I'm sure most people probably would have done the same thing.
The police officers called them heroes. I think they were heroes. And hopefully someone will step up to fix the situation and make the wrong decision into a right one.
You can get the full story and see the video from FOX31 Denver's Problem Solvers.