Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You Are Fired !!

No, Donald Trump did not get to him. The poor fellow was trying to be a good samaritan but in doing so; he broke company policy. Here it is ....

Dustin Chester is job hunting this week, after The Home Depot fired him and the general manager for thwarting a thief from running away with a pocket full of stolen cash.

Last week, the 24-year-old department manager confronted a man who was standing by a soda machine in front of the Murfreesboro store off Old Fort Parkway holding a crowbar and a wad of cash. When the suspect started running, Chester said his instincts took over.

He was fired Monday for violations of company policy in the incident.

"When he ran, I ran after him," he said. Chester caught the thief and restrained him in the parking lot until police arrived.

Chester was shocked to find out that for managers and most employees, catching and detaining thieves is against company policy.

"The district manager told me that we are supposed to let thieves walk away; it blew my mind," said Chester, a one-time employee of the year.

The Home Depot said its policy, which directs workers to notify loss prevention specialists or police to handle criminal situations, is in place to protect its employees and customers.

"The associates involved were not following company policy, resulting in this disciplinary action," said Don Harrison, spokesman for the Atlanta-based company. "Safety is a primary focus for our company."

The former general manager could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Chester said there was no loss prevention officer on duty during the Aug. 20 incident and that in his seven years, he'd never heard of the company's policy.

But even if he had known how the company wanted him to act, it wouldn't have made a difference.

"He had a crowbar, and what if he had come inside and gone after customers or the employees working at the registers?" Chester asked. "I'd rather have him coming at me than going after any of the customers."

The suspect was taken into custody and transported to Middle Tennessee Medical Center for treatment. It was unknown Tuesday if he was charged.

So for protecting his "work family" and loyal customers, Chester, an MTSU graduate, finds himself unemployed.

Chester said he wouldn't pursue any legal recourse. Considering how the corporate managers handled the situation, he doesn't want his job back.

"I'm probably better off not working for a company like that," Chester said. "It seems like the company is being run by lawyers, who are worried more about lawsuits than employees.

"A situation like this really shows what this corporation believes in — it's sad that they would do this to two people who were just trying to help out."

Legal problems

But experts say vigilante justice, or making a citizen's arrest, is a legal minefield and that dealing with a suspect's lawyers is often more dangerous than apprehending the suspect.

By making a citizen's arrest, you're exposing yourself to a litany of possible lawsuits or criminal charges, including impersonating police, false imprisonment, kidnapping and wrongful arrest.

Murfreesboro police spokesman Kyle Evans said the best thing for employees or citizens to do is to be a good witness by making observations about the suspect to help in identifying them.

"Property isn't worth getting hurt over — merchandise can be replaced and people can't," he said.

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