Walmart Worker Says He Was Fired For Redeeming $5.10 Worth Of Cans He Found In Store Parking Lot

UPDATE: A company spokesman told Consumerist that the worker was terminated for “gross misconduct and theft inside the store,” and that his firing was not related to any cans and bottles from outside.

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A Walmart worker whose job it was to clean up the store’s parking lot says he was fired for collecting more than errant shopping carts and trash left by customers: after redeeming cans he found on the job for $5.10 in cash, he says he lost his job for theft of Walmart property.

The 52-year-old New York man says he wasn’t aware of the rule against redeeming empty bottles and cans at the store. After turning in the empties for cash, he says he was called into the security office and interrogated by a manager and two security staff members.

“I didn’t know you couldn’t take empties left behind. They were garbage,” he told the Albany Times Union [warning: link contains video that autoplays]. “I didn’t even get a chance to explain myself. They told me to turn in my badge.”

The store’s manager asked him to repay the $5.10, he says, but he didn’t have any cash on him so he took a one-hour bus ride home and paid the manager back a few days later.

“We can’t comment on human resource matters,” a spokesman at Walmart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, AR told the Times Union, adding that the man was fired after an internal investigation and human resource review, but declined to elaborate.

The worker has since contacted prisoner advocate Alice Green at the Center for Law and Justice in Albany, as he’s on parole after being release from prison in May. Green says she took up the man’s case after he alleged racial discrimination on the job: the worker, who is African-American, says the manager told him during his interrogation that a white cashier was caught on camera stealing $20 from a cash register and stuffing it into her bra. She paid the money back and wasn’t fired because she has five kids, according to the worker’s story.

“It raised issues of race and gender,” Green said. She and an attorney have tried to contact Walmart managers to get the man reinstated to his job, with no results so far.

The man says he’s now worried about being able to buy Christmas presents for his two teenage kids.

“This is an injustice,” he said. “I was done dirty.”

Walmart fires East Greenbush employee for redeeming $5.10 of cans left in parking lot [Albany Times Union]