Justice

Walmart Fired This Man for an Absolutely Insane Reason

November 20th 2015

By:
Alex Mierjeski

A former Walmart employee from East Greenbush, New York, was fired from his job for redeeming $2 worth of discarded cans and bottles in a customer's shopping cart. Now, he is receiving the support of community members after his story went viral this week.

Thomas Smith, a 52-year-old former convict with a learning disability, said he was let go from his job earlier this month after apparently signing a statement that he didn't understand—he didn't have his glasses—because he feared violating parole.

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Thomas Smith, the 52-year-old former Walmart employee

"I didn't know you couldn't take empties left behind. They were garbage," Smith told the Times Union, which broke the story. "I didn't even get a chance to explain myself. They told me to turn in my badge."

"I did the right thing and stayed out of trouble. I worked hard and did a good job. I ended up getting a raw deal," said Smith, who worked gathering shopping carts and picking up garbage at a local Walmart Supercenter.

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Now, community members and readers in far-off metropolises are reaching out to Smith with messages of sympathy and monetary support, the Times Union reports. A man from Mooresville, North Carolina, said he would send Smith a $510 check, and a woman from Chicago started a GoFundMe page that reached $6,115—more than the goal of $5,000—in one day.

Thomas Smith, the 52-year-old former Walmart employee

A Walmart spokesperson clarified the terms of Smith's dismissal with the Times Union after the story gained traction online. "He was terminated for taking property inside the store," Aaron Mullins told the paper. According to Mullins, the issue was not with the $3.10 in beer cans left in the parking lot near a trash can. Rather, management took issue with $2 in empties Smith took out of a shopping cart left inside the store's entrance—"gross misconduct," in the company's gaze.

Smith, who maintained he agreed to work on weekends and over his allotted 25 hours per week when management asked him to, contacted the Center for Law and Justice in Albany over race issues. He says that a white coworker was caught on camera stealing money from the cash register, but that she was allowed to keep her job, the Times Union reports.

"It raised issues of race and gender," Alice Green, who works as the Center for Law and Justice told the paper.

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