Home Depot Employee Fired For Chasing Shoplifter Sues For $1.5 Million

A Home Depot employee who was fired after he chased a man who had been vandalizing a vending machine is now suing Home Depot.

The lawsuit stated:

• Miller worked for Home Depot from March 13, 1995 to his termination Aug. 27, 2007. When terminated, he worked as manager for the Home Depot in Murfreesboro.

• When Miller arrived at work Aug. 20, 2007, the head cashier called to report a man struck a soft drink machine with a crowbar outside the building. From her tone of voice, Miller believed the cashier feared for her safety.

• Miller and assistant manager Robert Weiss saw two other employees detaining the suspect who was about 6 feet tall and weighed 180 pounds. When an employee asked for the cash taken from the machine, the suspect tossed the crowbar in a trash can and hurried away with the money. Two employees and Miller chased the suspect until they grabbed him.

• The manager counseled with the suspect, telling him he could stop using drugs and change his life.

He was not a customer of the store.

Murfreesboro Police took the suspect into custody. Police asked Miller for an affidavit for the arrest warrant. Miller obtained permission from the legal department to proceed with the prosecution.

• Later, Miller learned he was the subject of a company investigation. He was terminated Aug. 27.

Miller’s lawsuit stated he acted in concern for his employees, perceiving the suspect to be a threat to employees and customers. Under state law, Miller was justified to use reasonable force to protect employees and property.

His termination to protect others and arrest the suspect “jeopardizes clearly established public policies,” the lawsuit stated.

Gilley said Miller responded because the cashier feared the suspect with a crowbar.

“Rusty Miller instinctively has as we hope everyone would act when a human life is potentially in danger,” Gilley said. “In response, he was terminated.”

Miller offered to help the thief get help for a drug problem, his attorney said.

“How much more compassionate can you get?” Gilley said.

Attached to the lawsuit was the form Home Depot used to terminate Miller.

“Rusty pursued and detained a customer in the parking lot after the customer had broken into the vending machine outside the store,” the document stated. “Rusty’s actions are a violation of our company code of conduct — violation of asset protection policy.”

Kind of wonder why they stop you to look at your receipts if detaining you will get them fired. Poor Rusty.

Fired manager sues to get his job back [Murfreesboro Post] (Thanks, Jay!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. dorkins says:

    Was his firing another step in the wussification of America?

  2. unklegwar says:

    “The manager counseled with the suspect, telling him he could stop using drugs and change his life.”

    Sounds like he got all preachy on him. Find Jesus, all that crap. I can understand why Home Depot wouldn’t wanna be associated with Fundamentalist Born Again Zealots.

    But if that’s not the case, then this is ridiculous.

  3. B says:

    Home Depot didn’t fire him for stopping the thief from robbing the vending machine, they fired him for chasing down and detaining the suspect. At that point, the employees weren’t in danger, cause the guy was fleeing the scene. And Home Depot did this because they are afraid of getting sued for illegally detaining a suspect. Remember, the shoplifter has the same rights as the customers who refuse to show their receipt upon leaving the store.

  4. bravo369 says:

    I would give him double what he’s asking. that’s crazy that they fired him. I would also rule in favor of ANY employee that chases and drags down a shoplifter as I would to any employee assaulted by a customer because they didn’t want to show their receipt. There’s something seriously wrong with America that a person can do the right thing and get fired for it. we’re starting to let the patients run the asylum if we continue to let these things happen.

  5. KenSPT says:

    Not to start an argument, but those policies are in place for a reason.

    Home Depot simply doesn’t want to be liable for every employee who decides to play Clark Kent and take out supposed criminals. I somewhat understand that.

  6. Echomatrix says:

    its all about liability. Companies should just sit down and figure this type of thing out. There almost seems to be no precedent on it with how many times its going on.

    Just wait till someone dies because someone else feared for their job. I’ll bet it becomes federal law within 30 days..

  7. KenSPT says:

    @bravo369: Would you also gladly shell out the money, attorney fees, and other costs associated with a lawsuit when said employee injures him/her self when chasing down the shoplifter?

    You know just as well as I do, if he broke a leg, an arm, or worse when chasing down the perp he’d have sued Home Depot in a heartbeat for not protecting his best interests in an unsafe working environment.

  8. Noiddog says:


  9. coan_net says:

    I don’t see how he can say he feared for his employees safety when he had to CHASE the guy down. If someone is running away, in reality you probable don’t have to fear them anymore.

    When I worked in retail, I was told many time to not chase a crook. We even joked that we would help a crook carry out the cash register to their car if they asked. Putting your own safety at risk is even a bigger risk for the store.

    Those are simply policies all stores have – and I’m sure Home Depot has the same. Chances are this person never read the handbooks like he was suppose to. A company would rather a crook get away with some merchandise or money then see an employee hurt.

    If this person did not know this, then it is common sense to fire the person. If they can not follow simply rules, then you have to let the person go.

    What is next – Someone’s mother is sick, so they take $3,000 out of the register – THEN sue the company when they fire them for helping their mother?

    He was fired because he broke the rules. Simple enough.

  10. Darkwish says:

    No good deed ever goes unpunished.

  11. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Devil’s Advocate: if the person who demonstrated violence (crowbar) in committing a crime isn’t stopped and arrested, what’s to stop him from coming back with a glock?

  12. chiieddy says:

    This manager put the company at risk in a liability lawsuit once he ran after the suspect. Once the suspect ran away, he was no longer threatening his staff and it was the police’s responsibility to find him. My husband has been punched in the face by a thief who was still IN his store. The store’s responsibilities end when the issue leaves their premises, but since the gentleman was on the clock, he put the company at risk with his actions.

    Most companies have an established policy for loss prevention in their handbooks. The managers are responsible for knowing it. Most that I know of say to never chase or detain a suspected thief and to let the police handle it.

    When was the police called in this case? They should have been as soon as the cashier noticed the guy going at the machine with the crowbar.

  13. bravo369 says:

    @KenSPT: that’s where my support of him would end. he should be allowed to take upon personal responsibility if he decides to chase down a shoplifter. If i was walking down the street and saw a robbery/pursesnatching and I chased the guy for 3 blocks, tackled him and broke my leg in the process, i would only have myself to blame for that.

  14. chicagocooper says:

    After going through basic corporate retail training I can say the main reason they have these policies is so employees don’t try to detain or deter armed robbers that could put their lives in jeopardy. The company would rather lose the 300 bucks cash/goods to the robber than face a wrongful death suite because an employee got shot trying to refuse cash to a gunman.

    That said he shouldn’t have been fired, just retrained on policy.

  15. CharlieSeattle says:

    @B: Except in this case they actually had cause to detain him, unlike receipt checkers.

  16. MPHinPgh says:

    @dorkins: Was his firing another step in the wussification of America?

    It would certainly appear that way. On the other hand, just go grab whatever you want from HD…no one at the store is allowed to stop you.

    This would seem to be further proof that corporations, or more correctly, those who run them, are idiots.

  17. legwork says:

    I can’t blame him for dreaming of a Nardelli severance package, but something tells me contingency fees are involved.

  18. KenSPT says:

    @bravo369: Sadly we live in a world where people don’t take personal responsibility for anything.

  19. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    Seems like they would have been much better served by just taking the guy aside and quietly telling him not to do that anymore. As it is, now they’re facing a lawsuit AND it’s broadcast all over the world that Home Depot isn’t going to try too hard to stop shoplifters.

  20. MissTic says:

    Silly Home Depot Employee! Don’t you know that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away??

    I hope he wins.

  21. @unklegwar: Jump to conclusions much?

  22. Aladdyn says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: I was going to say the same thing. Turning your back on or ignoring someone who has done something violent is a very foolish thing to do. I don’t like “preachy zealots” either but this guy obviously has a good sense of morals and seemed to be genuinely acting out of a sense of trying to protect those around him.

  23. @coan_net: I don’t see how he can say he feared for his employees safety when he had to CHASE the guy down. If someone is running away, in reality you probably don’t have to fear them anymore.

    Tell that to the LAPD.

  24. dorkins says:

    I think they should have let him just get away and have a chance to return with better weaponry, to finish the job, get revenge, and/or dispose of witnesses.

  25. dorkins says:

    @Aladdyn: yeah, but he might have been saying nasty words like “God” or (gasp) “JESUS” to the robber … the horror …

    Better to let him find another victim, right?

  26. cde says:

    @dorkins: Because he can’t do that anyway. Someone willing to return with a better weapon, to kill (under camera surveillance none the less) would not be deterred by arrest. Hell, if that “might” happen, why didn’t he go and robbed the cashier at gunpoint? Petty thieves stick to petty crimes.

  27. Beerad says:

    @dorkins: Or, here’s an idea: maybe they should have let law enforcement do their job. You see, there are these people, they’re called “police.” Society pays them to track down and catch criminals. Home Depot? Their employees aren’t paid to do that — they are employed to deter shoplifting and sell home improvement goods. That’s it.

    I understand you would like to live in an awesome manly world where everyone was packing and people would throw down at a moment’s notice. Perhaps it would be like a bitchin’ action movie. The rest of us, however, live in the real world. It’s a world where employees who blow out their knees tackling shoplifters in the parking lot sue their employer for not having a safer environment, or worse yet, a world where some deranged wacko pulls out a gun in the store and blows little Sally Lou Who’s brains all over the juniors department because some macho “security team agent” grabs them before they can make off with a $29.99 dustbuster.

    Grow up, and realize that stores are more concerned about actually protecting people than they are about “wussification.”

    Your comments are consistently ignorant and misguided. I’m sorry to be rude, but please at least pretend to think about things before you post.

  28. randombob says:

    AGREED wholeheartedly.

    It’s ludicrous, really. Stop the good customers and ask for ID, let the bad ones go that refuse. So, let the dubious get away with it, and punish the good ones (higher prices to pay for the shoplifting we refused to stop, firing people for being upstanding citizens….)

    What happened to America whilst I was sleeping, huh?

  29. MPHinPgh says:

    @cde: “Petty thieves” sometimes graduate to bigger and more heinous crimes.

  30. Aladdyn says:

    @cde: I assume you mean CAN do that anyway. I think it would be much more likely for things to get escalated at that moment of time. Once hes arrested the situation would change for him and he is more likely to move on to other crimes.

  31. TheBigLewinski says:

    @dorkins: “Was his firing another step in the wussification of America”?

    Man do I agree, what happened to the good-ol days when you’d give this guy a good ass-wooping and the cops would come and bash his head a few times? Boy, times were a lot simpler 25 years ago and we had a lot less crime too.

  32. dorkins says:

    @cde: “Someone willing to return with a better weapon, to kill (under camera surveillance none the less) would not be deterred by arrest.”

    You seem to be assuming he won’t be in jail long (or at all) … a sad commentary on our justice system.

  33. Aladdyn says:

    @Beerad: The point i was trying to make though before is that it seems in this case the guy wasnt trying to be the hero. He wasnt trying to be tough. He had a real concern for the safety of the other employees, and apparently concern for the criminals life as well. Maybe he shouldnt have forcibly stopped him, but he certainly shold have been allowed to follow the guy and make sure he wasnt getting a more lethal weapon.

  34. CharlieSeattle says:

    @Beerad: Police are only there to clean up after the fact.

  35. sirwired says:

    I would have fired him too, especially since he was a manager. You do not want somebody in a supervisory position somehow getting it into the employee’s heads that it is EVER a good idea to chase down shoplifters. It is dangerous to the employee, opens up the store to liability suits from all sides, and is just bad policy. As a manager of some sort, he should have known that…

    If the guy was fleeing the premises, there is no reason to chase him.


  36. Civic Duty.

    Citizens are by law, required to make an effort to stop crime, are they not?

    Did the Gov’ment change this?

  37. l951b951 says:

    I have worked at Home Depot. When you are hired, it is disclosed up front that you will be fired if you attempt to detain/chase a shoplifter. He knew the rules.

    That policy is in place to prevent liability on Home Depot’s part. What if they had fallen with the suspect and injured him? Lawsuit on Home Depot. What if the suspect had hit the manager with the crowbar? Lawsuit on Home Depot.

    He knew the rules, and as a manager, it would have been his job to fire any employee of that store if they did what he did.

  38. dorkins says:

    @TheBigLewinski: “Man do I agree, what happened to the good-ol days when you’d give this guy a good ass-wooping and the cops would come and bash his head a few times? Boy, times were a lot simpler 25 years ago and we had a lot less crime too.”

    Yeah, today’s system is much better: a get-out-of-jail-after-you’ve-bulked-up-and- made-more-criminal-contacts card, and go bash in some victims’ heads a few times. Advice: do it in a gun-free zone, like a mall.

  39. DrGirlfriend says:

    So fine, he broke the guidelines established by Home Depot to deal with this kind of situation. Why is it necessary to summarily fire him? Why not suspend or reprimand?

  40. B says:

    @CharlieSeattle: Receipt no-showers are suspected of a crime, just like he was. Until conviction, he’s an alleged thief.

  41. dorkins says:

    @sirwired: Yeah, let him go bother someone else! Good thing Home Depot knows that these people won’t go rape or kill someone later; we can all sleep easy.

    I understand Home Depot’s intent, but it just seems so wrong … we’re creating crime-friendly zones all over.

  42. Beerad says:

    @Aladdyn: I agree, this guy does seem to be a genuinely good guy who wanted to do the right thing. (Draw your own conclusions, however, as to how great a guy he is if he thinks he should recover $7.5M for losing his job as a retail manager. Oh, plus an additional $600k for his wife?! That’s right, the C-ist article doesn’t mention that, but read the link.)

    That being said, most stores do allow employees to take down car information, etc. to help the police catch the guy. If you want to follow a thief into the parking lot and watch him, that’s usually okay. But that’s not what happened here.

    And FWIW, I doubt that a guy who discarded a crowbar as he was running away was headed for a “weapon upgrade.”

  43. dorkins says:

    @DrGirlfriend: Because once he starts going after people who break the law, what’s to stop him from going after Home Depot? :D

  44. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Citizens are by law, required to make an effort to stop crime, are they not?

    @DikembeMeiztombo: No. What law are you talking about?

    You’re not legally obligated to try to stop someone you see breaking into a car. That’s why we have police: people who are armed and trained to stop crime.

  45. dorkins says:

    @Beerad: “I doubt that a guy who discarded a crowbar as he was running away was headed for a “weapon upgrade.”

    Crowbars are heavy. And have a short range. That’s why I stopped using them.

  46. CarnageSIS says:

    @B: The report says he hurried away with the money, now unless they were standing on the edge of a field when he hurried away you can’t assume the employees or even customers were no longer in danger. Most likely he would have had to run into or through the parking lot. So what about employees that might have been helping customers to their cars, or gathering carts, nevermind the customers in the parking lot. It could be assumed he was fleeing the scene and that was the end of it. It could just as easily be assumed that he could have hurt any customers or employees in the parking lot. So then instead of getting fired for detaining a suspect, he gets fired cause HomeDepot gets sued when the suspect assualts a customer as he’s getting away.

  47. Buran says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Police don’t care if your car gets broken into. They won’t even collect evidence. But don’t you dare share music…

  48. statnut says:

    @B: Except that he there were eyewitness accounts of him vandalizing and stealing. Whereas as a shopper hasnt done anything illegal.

  49. mgy says:

    I wish my neighbors had this policy when we used to play ding-dong ditch.

  50. moviemoron says:

    What a crappy society we live in. The manager should be given a medal and a pay raise. I am again surprised at how many people support HOme Depot.
    Some say, call the police. Well, given that vandalism is a low priority call as opposed to say a murder or a fight or an accident, by the time they arrived, the suspect could be in Mexico drinking pinacoladas.
    Also, look at it like this: If he knows he can vandalize a soda machine without repercussions, he will come back again and again and again. And maybe he just might hurt or kill someone. Now that he has been apprehended, this will deter him from doing it again. So, in effect,the store manager did a great service in protecting the employees and customers from harm from this criminal.
    We as citizens have the power to make arrests and we should utilize this power.turning a blind eye to crime will not solve our problems. Criminals will thrive. We have to be more proactive.

  51. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @DrGirlfriend: It would have been a good opportunity to have a meeting and explain some of the things that could have gone wrong when they decided to chase this guy down. I guess it’s one of those zero-tolerance-you-never-ever-do-this type of rules.

  52. ironchef says:

    miller is a hero. pure and simple. he should not be penalized for chasing a crook down.

  53. chemmy says:

    I noted that they fired due to asset protection.

    Hmmm, guessing the asset isn’t their “valuable” employee… Nor does it seem that the asset was the funds in the vending machine.

    Rather, asset protection means covering their own asses.

  54. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Buran: I don’t think you’re going to get a corporation the size of Home Depot to create/revise policy based on the assumption that the police are useless.

    @CarnageSIS: That’s a good point. Is Home Depot’s policy to let them go as soon as they start to run or only once they’ve made it out the store?

  55. dorkins says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Yep, just like at Northern Illinois University (six minutes for the police to arrive: 5 dead, 16 wounded), or Columbine (13 murdered in 16 minutes), Luby’s Cafeteria (23 dead), Kirkwood (“the police officer was killed immediately when the attack started. People cowered or were reduced to futilely throwing chairs at the killer.” Oops, we didn’t think of that one, did we?)

    “In October 1997, after a shooter had killed two students at a high school in Pearl, Miss., assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a gun from his car and immobilized him until the police arrived. An April 1998 school-related shooting in Edinboro, Pa., which left a teacher dead, was stopped by nearby restaurant owner James Strand, who pointed a shotgun at the shooter as he was reloading his gun. The police did not arrive until eleven minutes later.”

    Maybe we should just all carry a chair around, just in case. That’ll work … until someone is fatally injured by a chair.

  56. jeff303 says:

    @DikembeMeiztombo: Well there is the Good Samaritan law ([en.wikipedia.org]) but it’s not quite the same thing.

  57. Kilotonne says:

    Calling the police is useless. They won’t even bother to show up in many cases, it is impossible to track down a shoplifter or a small break-in.

    My wife knows a mother from preschool, whose car got completely cleaned of all the high-end electronics right in front of a very busy Walmart when she was shopping. I bet the bypassing Walmart cart movers did not move a finger precisely because of the “asset protection”.

  58. synergy says:

    I don’t understand how the guy was a threat to employees, but ok. Let’s say that was the case because we weren’t there. But then the guy ran away and had already ditched the potential weapon, the crowbar. Why would he chase the guy? As an aside, the guy wasn’t even vandalizing HD property (I assume) since it was (probably) a Coca-Cola/Pepsi/Lay’s/fill-in-the-blank machine outside. Once upon a time I worked in retail and we were always told not to chase shoplifters. Although, again, this person wasn’t an HD shoplifter. Someone should’ve snapped a pic with a phone camera everyone seems to have these days and turned it in when the cops showed up.

  59. dorkins says:

    @moviemoron: no, no, haven’t you heard? he’ll stick to petty crime.

  60. Kilotonne says:

    @dorkins: We should sue the pants off of the assistant principal Joel Myrick and the restaurant owner James Strand. You can’t really fire a restaurant owner, but you can bulldoze him.

  61. dorkins says:

    @chemmy: Nice!

  62. dorkins says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I think the perp is supposed to call, “Olly olly oxen free” before you can not give chase.

  63. dorkins says:

    @Kilotonne: They’re probably in jail as we speak.

  64. rellog says:

    Can’t say for sure, but I’ve seen plenty of really good HD managers fired for reasons other than what they finally pin on you. The regional manager maybe didn’t like this guy…. he may have made too much money…. for what ever reason, they were looking for an excuse to fire him, and they found one.

  65. ludwigk says:

    Let this be a lesson to everyone: The next time Home Depot asks to see your receipt, and you don’t want to show it to them, just tell the door checker that you’re shop lifting, and if they attempt to detain you, they will most assuredly get fired for violating Home Depot policy. Way easier than arguing over privacy concerns, or being treated like a criminal.

  66. puka_pai says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: “I guess it’s one of those zero-tolerance-you-never-ever-do-this type of rules.”

    I’ve worked retail for many years, and yes, this is one of those zero-tolerance rules. Usually managers are given more extensive loss prevention training and are required to sign off on the policies. “Don’t chase the crooks” is the most common rule in every place I’ve ever worked, and every employee is made aware of it, no matter what their position might be.

    The company’s POV is that “you are worth more to us than the stuff or money being stolen”. It sounds all warm and fuzzy, but it’s dollars-and-cents reality. Those 14 cases of beer the thief is loading into the car are worth a lot less than the settlement your family is going to get when he shoots you in the head.

  67. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Couldn’t they have just put a written reprimand in his file and told him not to do that anymore?

  68. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @dorkins: I’m not sure why you responded to that comment with details from campus shootings. Are you arguing that there should be a law requiring citizens to stop criminals?

  69. CPC24 says:

    I’ve worked in retail, and management forbids you to do this. We were always told to never chase after people, even if they just robbed the place.

  70. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Wait, you were responding to the “that’s why we have police” part of the comment.

  71. Beerad says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: No, no, you’re obviously a bleeding-heart crybaby. Stopping them doesn’t do any good, we need a law that you are required to shoot them on sight.

  72. savvy9999 says:

    No one here has ever seen Spider-Man? Standing by and saying “I missed the part where that’s my problem” is what got Uncle Ben killed.

    This HD worker should get a freakin’ medal and the keys to the city for stopping a criminal from perhaps doing worse to someone else later.

  73. BrianH says:

    Is there an embargo (or a price hike) on commas that I’m not aware of?

    The title of this story sure would benefit from 2 well-placed commas.

  74. dorkins says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: A reprimand??? That wouldn’t show that they’re tough on … er … ignoring crime. Or on people who are tough on crime.

  75. dorkins says:

    @ludwigk: Would’t it be funny if everyone just started running out of Home Depot without paying?

  76. dorkins says:

    @savvy9999: Aw, Spider-Man was just a movie. That stuff doesn’t apply in real life.

  77. dorkins says:

    @BrianH: “Is there an embargo (or a price hike) on commas that I’m not aware of?”

    They’ve all been stolen from Home Depot in the last month.

  78. IrisMR says:

    @dorkins: Yes. I’m pretty damn sure it is.

    Good luck to him.

  79. @jeff303: Ah. That’s the one. I think.

  80. JLoose111 says:

    Damn right he got fired. Everyone knows you don’t chase down or detain suspected shoplifters. The potential lawsuits it opens you up to far outweigh a bag of quarters smashed out of a vending machine. The guy’s actions, as noble as they may have been, put his company at risk legaly. End of story.

  81. Fidel on the Roof says:

    $1.5 Mil is BS. He is gouging Home Depot even though he clearly defied policy.

  82. BStu says:

    I have to say, the firing here is just. The manager’s own case simply doesn’t justify his claimed concern for his or his employee’s safety. It was fine for him to respond initially, but if the company has a policy that insists employees not put themselves in danger in aprehending shoplifters, he clearly violated it. As a manager, he needs to be held to a higher standard of conduct, so I can see why they opted against a reprimand.

    Look, these policies do protect employees. And for all the cynicism big corporates justly inspire, I actually think they mean it here when they say they are concerned for their employees safety. That it is in their financial interest to be concerned for their safety doesn’t hurt, I’ll grant, but I do think they generally mean it. This manager broke he rule he surely was well informed about, and there doesn’t seem to be any valid concern for him to have. I won’t cry if Home Depot settles with him for whatever it’d cost to defend themselves against the suit. Its not like this is a bad guy, but he did break company regulations and its reasonable to get fired for that.

  83. Beerad says:

    @dorkins: Yeah, it’s too bad Home Depot can’t possibly do anything to deter crime, they just have to watch everyone steal and not do anything.

    I mean, it’s not like they could, I don’t know, hire an off-duty cop to stand at the exit and, you know, arrest people who commit crimes. That would clearly be impossible. I mean, it’s certainly not the case at any large store I’ve been to that uniformed officers were there.

    When I worked at a popular chain convenience store in college, we certainly never did anything like that on busy weekend nights, because all of us clerks were really really eager to jump in front of dudes who were stealing 40s of malt liquor. Good times, good times. And I was sooooo excited to be like “this serious risk of bodily harm is TOTALLY worth it to me because I’m an American hero! I can’t believe they’re paying me a whole $4.35 per hour to be able to participate in vigilante justice! U-S-A! U-S-A!”

  84. humphrmi says:

    Why didn’t the guy just call the police and be done with it? The vending machine probably didn’t even belong to Home Depot.

  85. ClankBoomSteam says:

    Sorry folks, but this guy was taking a huge, unreasonable risk with his own life and those of his employees by chasing down and detaining the suspect, here. There’s a reason that the usual corporate line when it comes to these situations is “do not attempt to apprehend”. Just last year, I saw a person get killed — no exaggeration — as a result of retail store employees chasing a thief.

    Is the Home Depot manager a good guy? Sounds like he probably is. Was he using good judgment in this situation? By doing anything but getting the guy away from the store, the customers and the employees, and then calling the cops, no. He absolutely was not.

    After twelve years at the company, the manager should have known better than to endanger himself and his employees. If the suspect had seriously injured or killed him or one of his employees, you can bet the lawsuit on Home Depot’s hands would be for a hell of a lot more than $1.5 million.

    I hate, hate, HATE Home Depot, but they’re in the right here.

  86. Beerad says:

    @Fidel on the Roof: It’s actually $2.5 million compensatory if he doesn’t get his job back, $1.5 million if he does, and $5 million punitive either way. His wife is asking for $600,000 for, uh, “damages because of her husband’s loss.”

    Wonder how most of the “this guy totally deserves a medal” crowd feel about frivolous lawsuits and the people who bring them…

  87. dandd says:

    If you are an HD employee, the only reasonable thing to do is help the shoplifter load his truck.

  88. kbarrett says:

    B: “Remember, the shoplifter has the same rights as the customers who refuse to show their receipt upon leaving the store.”

    If the shopkeeper sees a thief take the merchandise off the shelf, and then out of the store, without paying, the shopkeeper does have a right to detain the suspect and call the police.

    This is different from refusing to show a receipt for merchandise that was lawfully purchased.

  89. cde says:

    @Beerad: Meaning he can’t get it up because of depression/stress and she has to resort to batteried operated boyfriends (BOBs). I hear D cells are expensive.

  90. Canoehead says:

    One thing – this guy was not a suspected shoplifter. He was a vandal and a thief, and he had likely committed the crime of assault (not battery) or “threatening”, depending on local law by his actions threatening employees with the crowbar. This is a little bit different from some kid sticking a roll of duct tape under his shirt. I think that would be grounds for a little leniency on HD’s part – along with a warning about doing something like that again.

  91. digitalgimpus says:

    Gotta side with HD here. The guy chased after someone as an employee and held them.

    HD has a potential liability. They don’t want one. The employee’s job is to do what the company wants.

    I think the employee should go find a job where they don’t have to follow directions or take responsibility for anything. Clearly can’t handle it. I don’t think there’s any store that doesn’t prohibit employees from confronting someone in this situation. To much of a risk.

  92. dorkins says:

    @dandd: “If you are an HD employee, the only reasonable thing to do is help the shoplifter load his truck.”

    Uh, pretty sure that’s a union job. Unless you want to get sued.

  93. Beerad says:

    @Canoehead: Except that all he assaulted/battered/threatened was a vending machine. From how the article reads, a cashier (seemingly inside the building) saw him hit the vending machine (outside the building) and felt threatened. Two other employees then detained him, and there’s no suggestion that he menaced them in any way at all. There seems to have been some talking back and forth, so this wasn’t exactly a crazed violent felon.

  94. mandarin says:

    Maybe HD was trying to protect the maker of crowbars..

  95. Landru says:

    I’m all for policemen and rehab couselors, but he was hired to be the store manager – not be be a policeman or a rehab counselor. I hate HD, but I’m not surprised they fired him.

  96. mexifelio says:

    Plaintiff wins lawsuit = Home Depot doubles all its prices.

  97. shor0814 says:

    My brother worked for HD, day one, you get it drilled into you that you do not chase, stop, or confront a suspected shoplifter. Oh, and you will get fired if you do.

    It is also doubtful that the vending machine even belonged to HD, vending is not a core business function.

    In this specific situation, the person was breaking into the machine, but this guy arrived after it happened, he had no way of knowing the whole story. How would this have played out had the person using the crowbar been working for the vending machine owner opening a broken machine. Remember, Rusty did not see the situation first hand.

    Sucks to be Rusty. I wonder if he ever conducted new hire or follow up training for his employees and talked about the no-pursuit policies?

  98. spamtasticus says:

    I’ts simple. Very Simple. If it was against the compnaies policy to chace down suspects they have every right to fire him. If it was not then they do not. Unless it’s in Florida. Here they can fire you for anyithing short of discrimination.

  99. StevieD says:

    Hmmm. From business management perspective, I just love an employee that takes risks and protects my business and property.

    My insurance agent has an entirely different perspective. Can’t say the agent is wrong as I pay the bill and would hate to pay more.

    This entire issue boils down to money. The risk exposure to HD far exceeds the benefits of the former employee’s actions.

    There is no clear right and wrong.

    Personally I encourage local PD to run radar out of my parking lot. Good for the community and keeps a legally loaded gun in close proximity to the business to discourage riff-raff.

  100. chrispiss says:

    you are not allowed to chase or detain people in retail stores. period. He did the right thing, unfortunately the right thing isn’t allowed.

  101. sleepydumbdude says:

    Deserves being fired. I’m all for them chasing people at stores but I went through Home Depot training and almost worked there a couple years ago and they drill into your head not to do anything to them.
    When I used to work at K-Mart when I was 16 we were able to chase the shoplifters. We used to push in carts and twice I remember watching a guy getting nailed by a cart who was trying to flee. The only time we ever got in trouble was because a guy tackled another guy into a parked car. This was probably around 1997.

  102. cde says:

    @spamtasticus: At-Will Employment. Just as gay as No-Fault divorces, car accidents, and a shit load of other rights denying tactics masquerading as laws.

  103. antirem says:

    Im glad to hear he was fired. I hope he wastes his money on a lawsuit and looses.

    No chase policies are in place so that you dont chase someone into a car and get a lawsuits on your hands.

  104. scoosdad says:

    No matter where you stand on this issue, it’s going to be interesting if Rusty should win the case, it goes to appeal, and he wins again. There would be an awful lot of other people out there fired for the same reason that would be getting in line to file a similar lawsuit.

    I predict Home Depot will make a big settlement out of court to make sure this won’t happen.

  105. arilvdc says:

    Did the other two employees who chased down the guy also get fired?

  106. PracticalMagic says:

    All I can say is when I’m stopped by an employee to show my receipt, I’m definitely paraphrasing their legal department. “your actions are a violation of our company code of conduct — violation of asset protection policy.” Enuf said.

  107. jimda says:

    when the criminal ran away the danger to the employee was ended. lat the police handle the rest.

  108. redhand32 says:

    While any reasonable person would wish this plaintiff/hero well in getting either his job back,– or more realistically, a handsome settlement so that he can transition to another job (would you really want to go back after something like this ?), an important issue I would think and the company implies is the written company policy in the employee handbook and the like.

    Despite acting like super-hero, under some circumstances , employee intervention could expose the company and even the super hero himself to possible civil liability. What if hero screwed up, or the alleged perp was simply having a seizure and was adjudicated as not guilty. What about video cameras ?

    It’s one of these Catch 22s where you have to act or not act in an instant, Maybe “It’s not my job” and 911 is the way to go sometimes if the company policy says that’s the way it’s supposed to roll, especially when you are an “at will” (no contract) employee, which is most people. It ususlly says on the application you sign that you can be terminated with or with out cause with no explanation at any time. It doesn’t have to be because you are right. It doesn’t matter actually.

    I am not lawyer or HR person. But, I know how the employment works in the REAL world (not Hollywood).

  109. Veeber says:

    @bravo369: And just wait for that “shop lifter” to sue the company for being assaulted by the store employees. We need to stop protecting criminals from being able to sue for damages when they are injured when committing a crime. Once this happens then companies will be less likely to have stupid policies like this.

  110. cde says:

    @Chris Vee: Uhh, most states have such a law. NJ shoplifting stature 2c:20-11 subsection e:

    e.A law enforcement officer, or a special officer, or a merchant, who has probable cause for believing that a person has willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise and that he can recover the merchandise by taking the person into custody, may, for the purpose of attempting to effect recovery thereof, take the person into custody and detain him in a reasonable manner for not more than a reasonable time, and the taking into custody by a law enforcement officer or special officer or merchant shall not render such person criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever.
    Any law enforcement officer may arrest without warrant any person he has probable cause for believing has committed the offense of shoplifting as defined in this section.
    A merchant who causes the arrest of a person for shoplifting, as provided for in this section, shall not be criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever where the merchant has probable cause for believing that the person arrested committed the offense of shoplifting.

    If they have probable cause, if if the shoplifter is injured (because of reasonable cause), the store is not liable.