Wal-Mart Employee Fired For Stopping Punch-Happy Shoplifter

Up until last week, Victoria Smith was a Customer Service Manager with at a Wal-Mart in New York. Then she intercepted a shoplifter, released her to the wild (as is legally required), and then got punched in the face when the shoplifter snapped and ran back into the store. Three days later, she was fired for touching the customer.

After another customer alerted Smith to the potential shoplifter, she began checking receipts at the exit. When the suspect came out of the in-store McDonald’s and headed for the exit, Smith intercepted her and pointed out that the receipt didn’t match what was in the cart. The suspect ran out of the store, then had a change of heart and came back in:

Then the irate shopper rushed back into Wal-Mart, screaming at Smith and wielding a Mickey D’s cup of soda, police said. They say she smashed the drink over Smith’s shoulder and landed a hard hook to her cheek. Police said she slugged another associate in the eye, spit in the face of a loss-prevention employee and pummeled another manager who grabbed her shopping cart. No one was seriously injured.

So far, local Wal-Mart officials have neglected to comment on the incident. Smith, a 16-year veteran of customer service, said, “This is so embarrassing. I was just defending myself and this store. I need this job. I have kids to feed. Now, I don’t know if I even want to work in retail anymore.”

Surely there’s more to the story than what the article is reporting, but even if you have a no-touching-customers rule, shouldn’t allowances be made for self defense?

“Woman fired after stopping robbery” [Times Herald-Record] (Thanks to Jean!)
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. Uriel says:

    Dicks all around, meaning Wal-Mart of course.

  2. gorckat says:

    Did she touch the person while intercepting them?

  3. protest says:

    screw all these PC mofos, i’m sick of what is going on seemingly everywhere we look today. nobody is ‘allowed’ to do anything out of common sense anymore! we are turning into a country of “look the other way” pansies! if you see someone stealing, you should do something, better yet, stores like walmart should have a full time security guard for these situations. a store should be counting their lucky stars that they have an employee that would actually give a damn enough to try and stop a thief. instead, they fire her.

  4. statnut says:

    Walmart gonna get it!

  5. @protest: Not stopping a thief has nothing to do with being politically correct and everything to do with the store not wanting to deal with their employees or customers getting injured or dead after the their whips out a weapon.

    The real problem here is that, at least by her account, she never touched the alleged shoplifter until after they attacked her. Now she’s embarrassed? No one should be embarrassed about defending themselves! I hope she can find a better job that isn’t in retail because that’s BS!

  6. @Rectilinear Propagation: That should read “the thief” not “the their”

  7. CurbRunner says:

    Now that she no longer works for the WalMart pukes, she’s free to take action.

    If the police took a report that shows what was described above, this poor lady should file assault and battery charges against this customer and sue his ass in civil court for loss of current and future income due to him being the cause of her firing by the real thugs in this story, WalMart management.
    A jury would most likely side with her.

    • jh says:

      @CurbRunner: But if they’re stealing from Walmart….do you think they really have anything to go after?

      You’d waste your time trying to find him/her to serve them. Then you’d waste more time in the courtroom while the case is at trial (assuming they even show up). Then, when you get your judgement, you’ll waste time trying to garnish their wages. Finally, they’ll declare bankruptcy and you’ll be S.O.L.

  8. kylere says:

    Why do people consent to be treated in the way that Walmart treats it employees. There are tens of thousands of positions in this country that are poorly paid, lacking benefits and NOT at Walmart.

    No sympathy, working for Walmart puts you in the category of the enemy.

  9. Snarkysnake says:

    Send money ,lawyers and guns (but especially lawyers)..

    Sue the following:

    The perpetrator. If she is convicted on the criminal charges,should be easy to win.You probably will win (and God help you trying to collect),but when this little psychopath ever tries to borrow money,buy a house or a decent car or (unlikely) be up for a decent job,she will pay for screwing you this way.

    Wal-Mart. Demand a jury trial. Big bullies like Wal Mart know that their policies are indefensible to a jury,so they will do just about anything to avoid a jury trial. Sue for a lot and settle for a little less. Find a GOOD no nonsense attorney and sue their ass. That said, it does seem that their may be something not being told here,but if the story is just this simple,she has been done wrong and should get recompense.

  10. Falconfire says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Yep it all has to do with insurance. I would even venture to guess their policy specifically states that its a violation (and thus not covered) if a employee did infact stop someone.

  11. parliboy says:

    @CurbRunner

    Nah… the crook isn’t deep pockets. Wal-Mart is. And so the question, then, is whether Wal-Mart’s policy regarding shoplifting was a proximate cause to her injury. IANAL, and all that.

  12. SeattleGuy says:

    Sounds like her manager used the incident as an excuse to get rid of her. Three days sounds about right to get an HR sign-off. It looks to me like she was on her way out anyway.

  13. crnk says:

    @parliboy: Deep and stingy pockets. I thought they had a policy that they don’t give money in lawsuits ever, even if they lose. They just wait it out and don’t pay, causing everyone to go bankrupt trying to get money out of them.

  14. Beerad says:

    I agree, there’s either more to the story or it’s a terrible knee-jerk reaction by management.

    Yes, companies are smart to have a “don’t manhandle the shoplifter, even if you want to play vigilante hero” policy, but for obvious reasons a “don’t ever be assaulted by a crazy thief” policy just doesn’t fly.

    I hope (and bet) she gets her job back after a lot of negative PR. Unless it turns out she grabbed the shoplifter and wrestled her out of the store initially or something similar.

    From another angle, what’s up with that poorly-attuned risk/reward calculation by the shoplifter? 34 bucks worth of merchandise (petty larceny, a misdemeanor) turned into several felonies because you just had to go back, throw soda on someone and swing some punches? I doubt the satisfaction was worth it.

  15. GearheadGeek says:

    As a CSM who’d been there for 16 years, she probably got benefits, which put her on the “look for an excuse to terminate” list.

  16. shan6 says:

    If Walmart doesn’t reform their employee policies they will soon find themselves on the receiving end of the worst shootings since post office rampages.

  17. MountainCop says:

    Not only does she have a civil and criminal case against the shoplifter, she now has a major civil case against Wal-Mart!

    Policy be damned, you may not have the right to a job, but you do have an absolute right to self-defense.

    Hope she enjoys her luxury retirement when she gets the big fat settlement check from Wal-Mart if she decides to pursue this – and I sincerely hope she does.

  18. Echodork says:

    If she hadn’t stopped the shoplifter, nobody would have gotten punched.

    Do you see the point of the policy, or do you just want to continue the anti-Walmart pitchfork parade?

  19. bobblack says:

    This is a wrongful termination suit waiting to happen.

  20. If she hadn’t stopped the shoplifter, nobody would have gotten punched.

    Do you see the point of the policy…

    @Echodork: She was FOLLOWING the policy! Their policy is to check the receipts. Their policy is to let the accused leave if they run out. She did both.

    There was no reason for the alleged shoplifter to come back into the store and attack her. This was not her fault.

  21. RokMartian says:

    After 16 years, it took this incident for her to question whether she wants to work in retail again?

  22. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    These self-checkout lanes seem to naturally attract casual shoplifters.

  23. IphtashuFitz says:

    Yet another reason why I REFUSE to set foot in a WalMart.

  24. Krycek says:

    I don’t even see in there where it said she touched the theif to defend herself. Is the touch they’re referencing maybe her face touching the customers fist?

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    Another happy Wal-Mart customer!

    But I jest. So she was fired for “touching” her jawbone with the miscreant’s fist?

    I shudder to imagine the dogs of Hell that would be unleased in a hoi polloi physically assaulted any of the Walton clan. But I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t involve blaming them for it. Hypocrits.

  26. InThrees says:

    so wait, she touched the shoplifter’s fist with her face?

    that’s a firin’

  27. mbrutsch says:

    Hey, don’t feel bad. I’ve been fired and *arrested* for getting punched in the face.

  28. cosby says:

    @mbrutsch:

    Ok details.

    Anyway yea if the person attacked her she had a right to defend herself. I’ll tell you if someone threw a drink on me then punched me they better hope someone is there to pull me off them. They would go down hard.

  29. Yourhero88 says:

    @InThrees: firin’ the school canoe… ooooh you better believe that’s a firin.

  30. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Wow is it just me but doesen’t it seem like the rules at stores now pretty much encourage blatant stealing? I mean if I get a cart full of stuff and go to leave they have to just follow me to my car and call the police. I am pretty sure a smart thief would have a false or no lic. plate and just take off before the cops get there…

    Its like if you are hiding it and being sneaky they might call the police before you leave. But if you brazenly steal there isn’t much they can do, other than maybe grabbing your cart.

  31. Froggmann says:

    New policy; Shoot all shoplifters on site! Basically the way to write it is If you steal from me you revoke your authorized access to my property, (Read Tresspassing) therefore the tresspasser will be shot on site. Hey it works for Bubba right?

  32. renilyn says:

    I don’t suppose this makes any more sense than my third grader being attacked in class and getting in trouble for it. TEACH ‘EM YOUNG EH? *rolls eyes*

  33. Buran says:

    @gorckat: Uh, yes, because they PUNCHED HER and committed criminal assault and battery — and SHE gets punished because someone couldn’t calm the fuck down?

  34. Buran says:

    Waiting for the “if they had just shown their receipt” crusaders in 3 … 2 … 1 …

  35. phrygian says:

    She was a 16-year veteran of Walmart. Which means she probably had benefits. Which means Walmart would have had to pay for the medical treatment she received for getting hit as well as claim the disturbance on reports to higher-ups. After 16 years, she was probably already at the top of her paygrade. All of those things would be reason enough for Walmart to fire her and citing physical contact gave them their out.

    Yet another example of how Walmart teats its employees like crap. One of the many reasons I don’t shop at Walmart.

  36. hypnotik_jello says:

    @Buran: LOL, my thoughts exactly!

  37. DrGirlfriend says:

    Screw Walmart! They get away with this crap is because people keep on shopping there, regardless of how much they know about Walmart’s crappy policies. “They treat their employees like crap — but look, they have toilet paper for 10 cents less than anywhere else!”

    @GearheadGeek: That’s a good point, I would not be surprised.

  38. jamar0303 says:

    And this is why I shop at Costco (in the States, at least- over in China it means I shop at farmer’s markets, or Tesco/Carrefour/RT-Mart/not Wal-Mart- it’s located in a virtually inaccessible part of Shanghai anyway). They treat their employees better.

  39. jeffjohnvol says:

    Walmart is just disappointed that they haven’t been able to find a way to hire Chinese people to work the stores. They should call themselves China Imports.

  40. chili_dog says:

    I’m not sure what happened at walmart, about 8-10 years ago or so. But what ever it was that changed, they seem to really be doing the wrong thing all the time no matter what the situation.

  41. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Sue. Win. If they don’t pay up, get a writ of execution and go to the nearest Walmart. Demand cash payment. If they refuse, start removing merchandise. If the manager shows up and threatens to call the cops, let him. If the cops show up, show them the writ of execution and they’ll HELP you. If the manager tries to not let you take merchandise out of the store or doesn’t pay up, have him arrested for contempt.

  42. @renilyn: Man, I HATE HATE HATE it when teachers/schools do that. I think they do it to cover their asses. If a kid got beaten up they’d have to answer for it because why didn’t they prevent it or stop it. However, if two kids are fighting though it’s the kids’ fault. So now it’s always “two kids in a fight” instead of “one kid got attacked”.

    Teachers used to insist that we weren’t supposed to fight back if someone came at us at school. Yeah, right. It’s one thing not to start a fight but it is stupid and dangerous to tell anyone not to defend themselves when they are being pummelled.

  43. Buran says:

    @phrygian: She got injured on the job, she can get workmans comp now for her medical treatment. It’s too late for them to not have to pay.

  44. Buran says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: Doesn’t that mean you can lop the manager’s head off?

  45. cryrevolution says:

    In the post, I believe it states she is a “16 year veteran of CUSTOMER SERVICE”, which could or could not mean she’s worked at Walmart those entire 16 years. And I don’t quite understand the reason for her firing. If it was in fact for this incident, she was just doing her job. I don’t see anywhere in the post where she says she even touched the shoplifter. And if she did, it was only when they came back in the store & punched her in the friggin face. I think she has a great case against Wal Mart for wrongful termination. I’d really like to see how this turns out.

  46. cryrevolution says:

    @Buran: The sad part about it is they’ll probably have some sort of work around for this. I take WC claims for large businesses & I see it all the time. They’ll have some sort of excuse for not paying & won’t, leaving her empty handed. Especially Wal-Mart, I wouldn’t put it past ‘em.

  47. XTC46 says:

    @Echodork: She didn’t stop the shop lifter, well, she did but she let them leave freely, the person came back and then attacked them.

  48. linoth says:

    Sadly, this is pretty much policy at most if not all major retailers. I spent a year working for Office Depot and their policy was pretty much the same. If we SEE them shoplift the merchandise, we can verbally confront them by asking if they intend to pay for the merchandise. Do not touch the customer, do not stop the customer from leaving. And it’s clearly liability related. CSRs that aren’t afraid to confront a thief are a liability and could easily end badly. And while it’s nice to pretend this is something that the franchise came up with, I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes down from the insurance companies or is an outright law by now.

    I would, however, like to hear the entire story, including a description of how and when the contact took place. The first paragraph sounds like it may have happened before the thief initially left the store. While it sucks that they pulled that on her, I’d like to hear the complete story before I pass judgement and use this to start an anti-Walmart crusade.

  49. toddkravos says:

    @linoth:
    this is by no means the only reason to start an anti-walmart crusade. but yeah, details are pretty light here.

  50. fejjnagaf says:

    And the wussification of America continues.
    Don’t physically restrain a shopper who has been caught. Don’t fight back. Don’t dare fight back…
    Just last week I heard a story of a bank that got robbed. A smart cashier ran out after them and jotted down the license plate. The cops caught the robbers and returned the money. The bank offered the teller a cash reward, but only if he agreed to quit. They wanted to fire him for writing down the license plate!
    Stuff like this makes me want to kick a puppy…

  51. MYarms says:

    Once again, does this really surprise anyone? Walmart is a joke and obviously they don’t give a damn about their employees.

  52. Dilbitz says:

    I guess Walmart is just trying to cover their ass. I hate Walmart as much as the next person, but I understand where their coming from. If this crazy person had pull a gun or knife or whatever, Walmart probably would have to dish out mucho dollars for the family of this woman. But of course, they’d find a way not to have to do that….

  53. chartrule says:

    sounds like something to contact the local news agency where she lives – as a human interest story – a number of the larger news services have reporters that get right in your face over stuff like this and try to reach a solution.

  54. magus_melchior says:

    @MYarms: Most large corporations are like this because we want them to make money, damn the consequences. Here’s a comment on another discussion that I think illuminates why bad companies do what they do.

    (I’d have cut and pasted it, but it’s a long one that includes links.)

  55. Lazlo Nibble says:

    @cryrevolution:

    In the post, I believe it states she is a “16 year veteran of CUSTOMER SERVICE”, which could or could not mean she’s worked at Walmart those entire 16 years.

    It most certainly could not. Time spent working for Wal-Mart can’t be counted towards total years spent in “Customer Service”.

  56. cryrevolution says:

    I guess Wal Mart just wants the employee to take a beating and not defend themselves. But, I agree with MYARMS, is it surprising? Wal-Mart wants the employee to just keep getting punched & stand there…

  57. lestat730 says:

    If possible, get the hell out of retail all together. Practically any job is better then retail….

  58. boxjockey68 says:

    What do you actually SAY about this story? It’s just another example (in a huge & rapidly growing pile) of why walmart is such a crapola store. They seem to be bottom of the barrel.
    I am amazed anyone would want to work there, or shop there for that matter.

  59. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @toddkravos: Do you need a reason to go anti-wallyworld? Look around, there are thousands, if not millions (of reasons or LOST AMERICAN JOBS).

  60. Consumer-X says:

    I am generally a big supporter of Wal-mart but when they pull this kind of crap they just come across as a bunch of classless A**holes.

  61. mrearly2 says:

    Sounds like another case of a large, greedy corporation avoiding a lawsuit, and reducing their liability (this protecting the bottom line) by firing the employee, who, of course, did nothing unethical or unlawful.
    I never buy crap at Wal-Mart. (if I need crap, I buy it elsewhere)

  62. NooneHere says:

    It looks to me like Smith can sue Wal-mart for not providing a safe working place. I hope she wins.

  63. Hinomura says:

    @phrygian: sounds like you hit the nail on the head. it’s always about money. always