Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Michigan store greeter fired for helping with vehicle fire

"No good deed goes unpunished," as the saying goes. It probably feels that way for a man who was fired from his job as a greeter at a Gaylord, Michigan, Meijer store. The 62-year-old man left his post in the store last month after a man came in frantically seeking help with a fire in his truck's glove compartment. The greeter gave the vehicle's owner a fire extinguisher, and he quickly extinguished the flames. The employee, who had gone out into the parking lot, then returned to the store.

The Grand Rapids-based retailer says that it has safety procedures in place for emergencies, and that team members are trained to follow those procedures for their own safety and that of customers. The man's wife, however, says that he was never given instructions for what to do if a vehicle was on fire in the parking lot, and acted out of instinct. His wife isn't the only one sticking up for the greeter, who is a retired postman from the Detroit area. The man whose truck was on fire says that it could have completely burned if the employee had not taken quick action.

A similar case involving a Livingston County Wal-Mart employee made news this fall. That employee was terminated after he intervened to help an assault victim in the store's parking lot during a break. Wal-Mart later offered the employee his job back.

The former Meijer employee says he enjoyed talking with customers and would return to the $9.30-per-hour job if asked. The couple says they only went public with the story after they received a Christmas card from Meijer, which seems to have rubbed salt in the wound.

It was not reported whether the former employee plans to take any legal action against Meijer for his termination. While the company may well be within its rights to fire this man, it will still have to withstand some temporary negative publicity. That's why it is important for businesses that rely on the public for their revenue to have a strong legal team that handles employee disputes in a manner that shows the appropriate amount of sensitivity. This way, customers are not put off by their actions, no matter how justified they may be. A good attorney may also advise them to take terminated employees off their Christmas card list.

Source: grbj.com, "Meijer fires employee for putting out fire" No author given, Dec. 16, 2013

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