Walmart Denies That Cashier Was Fired For Hugging Customers, Matching Prices

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Last year, people around the country rallied behind two Walmart employees who they believed were unfairly fired for redeeming $5.10 in discarded soda cans and for waiting half-an-hour to turn in $350 dollars he found in the parking lot. Now, consumers are once again showing support for another cashier of the big box retailer who says he was fired for hugging customers and discounting a jug of tea. 

The cashier, who was just shy of his 20-year anniversary with the retailer when he was fired, tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he began giving hugs to customers in November as a way to say “thank you for your business.”

Those free hugs ended on Saturday, when the 52-year-old says he was called into a manager’s office and told the hugs were inappropriate and that he was being fired for breaking store policy for price-matching a gallon of tea, knocking off $0.50, without the competitor circular as evidence.

Under Walmart policy, cashiers can discount items if a competitor is selling the product for cheaper. The retailer is supposed to have these competitor ads on hand.

While the cashier, who suffered brain damage and partial paralysis on his right side after an incident when he was in eighth grade, admits he didn’t always follow the policy, and in this case took the customer at her word.

In response to the cashier’s claims, Walmart tells KY3 that the longtime employee was not fired for either the hugs or the $.50 discount.

“Letting an associate go is never easy,” the company said. “But part of being a cashier is making sure customers are paying for their merchandise before they leave the store; in many instances, this was not happening, so [he] was let go.”

The cashier says the company is making it sound like he simply let customers walk out with unpaid groceries.

The man says he wasn’t warned about the pricing issue previously, but was talked to about giving customers hugs.

In January, he says he was told by managers that he had to stop giving hugs without asking permission first. He tells the Post-Dispatch that he’s been following that rule ever since.

The cashier’s brother says the former Walmart worker “doesn’t have a mean bone in his body” and that his purpose in life “has always been to make other people feel good about (themselves) and to bring a smile to their face. He loves to hug people, especially the older generation. He says they don’t get enough hugs in their life.”

Supporters of the cashier created a Facebook page “Hugs for Frank,” and have organized a protest outside the Walmart store for this weekend. So far, about 3,000 people have RSVP’d for the protest, which will include t-shirts and free hugs.

While the man says he can’t believe the support he’s been given by strangers, he has already begun to move on, interviewing for jobs at other local retailers.

Walmart fires cashier in West Plains, Mo., who wouldn’t stop hugging customers [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
Ex-cashier says he was fired for ringing up sale price; Walmart in West Plains says not true [KY3]