By revenue, Walmart is the largest company in the world. It’s also the second largest employer in the world (second only to the U.S. Federal Government) and the largest private company in the world, boasting a workforce of 1.4 million employees in the U.S. and 2.3 million employees total at 11,695 stores around the world.
As big a company as Walmart is, it definitely had its share of criticism and lawsuits. It has faced criticism and lawsuits from various labor unions, religious organizations, environmental groups, and even their own employees. The company has come under fire for a variety of things—business practices, religious and racial discrimination, security policies, and more. In all of these cases, Walmart has denied doing anything wrong and claims they’re running on all cylinders when it comes to efficiency.
Another statistic to add to the ones above is that Walmart’s annual turnover rate is more than 50%. A turnover rate that high must mean that people are getting fired left and right. In many cases, employees get terminated for some of the strangest reasons. Sometimes, employees are fired for not abiding by company policies and other times, employees are fired for no real reason at all. If you want to see what some of these cases were that got former Walmart employees discharged, then check out this list of 15 Walmart employees who share why they were fired.
15. Practicing Self-Defense After Getting Punched By A Customer
Obviously, this customer never heard of the saying, “Respect your elders.”
The incident occurred at a Walmart in Florida in 2010. A customer was attempting to leave the store when the alarms went off. 69-year-old greeter, Ed Bauman, followed the customer out to check his receipt and see if the customer was guilty of stealing merchandise from the store, and he got sucker punched. Bauman was forced to use self-defense, but it didn’t matter to Walmart. They penalized Bauman by sending him home.
When Bauman went in to work his next shift, he was told that he was fired. His termination notice referred to his actions involving the customer as “gross misconduct.” “They told me I did a good job of defending myself,” he said. “Then they turned around and fired me. I guess they just wanted me to stand there and get beaten.”
14. Being A Cancer Patient Who Legally Uses Medical Marijuana
The use of medical marijuana has always been a controversial topic.
29-year-old Joseph Casias was a store associate at a Walmart in Battle Creek, Michigan. He was a sinus cancer patient who had an incurable brain tumor that was pressing against his skull. In order to deal with the pain caused by his condition, Casias’ doctor prescribed him medical marijuana, which has been legal in the state of Michigan since 2008. But the Walmart in Battle Creek never got that memo.
When Casias’ bosses heard that their employee was using medical marijuana, they promptly fired him. Casias had been with the company for five years and was named Walmart Associate of the Year in 2008. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took on Casias’ case and sued Walmart for wrongful termination.
13. Posting A Joke On Social Media
Everyone knows that you’re not supposed to post negative stuff about your job on social media, even if you’re just making a joke.
In 2007, David Noordewier, a worker at a Walmart in Michigan, posted on Myspace, “Drop a bomb on all the Walmarts, trailer parks, ghettos, monster truck shows, and retarded fake “pro wrestling” events, and the average I.Q. score would probably double.” Someone copied, printed, and brought Noordewier’s post to the management at Noordewier’s job and he was fired for it.
Walmart didn’t see the humor in Noordewier’s joke at all. In fact, they took it as a threat. His offense was cited as “Gross Misconduct – Integrity Issue,” which is described as “Theft, Violent Act, Dishonesty, or Misappropriation of Company Assets.” They even denied Noordewier his unemployment benefits.
12. Pursuing A Shoplifter Through The Parking Lot
It’s been said that you should never chase after a shoplifter because two people running through a crowded area could be dangerous to shoppers and store employees. But some employees just want to do the right thing.
In 2009, Josh Rutner, an “asset protection officer” working at a Walmart in Florida, attempted to chase down a shoplifter wielding a knife across the store parking lot. Unfortunately, Rutner was punished for his heroics. The retail chain has a “no-chase policy” to protect its customers and employees, a policy Rutner knew about but didn’t care about in the situation that ultimately got him fired. “I couldn’t let him get away,” he said. “That’s wrong.”
11. Receiving Complaints Without Being Informed Beforehand
This one is from Reddit user budgiechild.
Budgiechild was given no warning prior to his termination from his job. After he finished his shift for the day, he went into the office where they told him he was getting canned. There were two reasons for his sudden termination—performance issues and complaints from customers for unfriendly behavior. Apparently, budgiechild was in bad standing and he had no idea. Management never told him about the complaints they were getting from customers. Budgiechild admits that he’s not good with people or socializing, but he always came into work on time. He just wishes he could have done a better job.
10. Preventing A Thief From Stealing A Computer
This one is just like entry number 12 above. Walmart really stands by their “no-chase” policy.
The incident occurred at a Walmart in Wichita, Kansas in 2010. 30-year-old customer service manager, Heather Ravenstein, followed a man out of the store who was carrying a computer worth $600. She was suspicious that he was attempting to shoplift the item and demanded proof that he purchased it. The man must have been guilty because he kicked Ravenstein and punched her in the shoulder before dropping the computer and running off empty-handed.
Ravenstein was fired later that day, due to company policy that prevents anyone who isn’t a manager or a member of the asset protection department from attempting to stop customers from stealing. A spokesperson for Walmart did say they were grateful for Ravenstein’s actions, though.
9. Turning In Money Found In Parking Lot Too Slowly
You think that turning lost money in would be good enough regardless. But apparently, Walmart has a time limit on things like this.
In 2015, Michael Walsh was fired from a Walmart franchise in Schenectady, New York for turning in a large amount of cash he found in the store parking too slowly by Walmart’s standards. Walsh found the money in various stacks of bills, which totaled $350. After stuffing the money in his pants pocket, he entered the store to turn the money in when he heard a woman yelling at the manager about how she lost some money. Walsh, who has anxiety issues, froze where he was. He eventually returned to his job and gave the money to the manager 30 minutes after he found it.
8. Sending An E-Mail Detailing The Pagan Origins Of Christmas
When Walmart changed its greeting from “Merry Christmas!” to “Happy Holidays!” in 2005, it prompted complaints from customers and an email from a certain customer service rep.
The employee, identified as “Kirby,” took it upon herself to explain the pagan beginnings of Christmas in reply to one of the complaints from a disgruntled Walmart customer. She said the following: “Christmas is actually a continuation of the Siberian shaman and Visigoth traditions,” Kirby replied. “Santa is also borrowed from the [Caucasus] mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth, and the tree from the worship of Baal.”
Technically, all of that is true, but it probably wasn’t the right response. A boycott on Walmart was formed by Catholic League demagogue, Bill Donohue. Walmart had no choice but to fire their employee who started the whole controversy.
7. Testifying In A Lawsuit
So much for telling the truth.
In 2007, Andi Bailey was working at a Walmart in Texas when she saw a substance on the floor. She called store maintenance about it, but before they could get back to her, someone slipped on the substance and fell to the floor, getting injured in the process. As a witness in a personal injury lawsuit, Bailey was told by Walmart to lie under oath. An attorney for the company instructed Bailey to say she didn’t contact maintenance before the accident occurred. But Bailey told the truth.
After she testified in court, Bailey called out of work on two separate days so she could care for her sick daughter. Her manager gave permission, but when Bailey tried to return to work 10 days later, she was fired for calling out of work without permission. Bailey sued her former employer in a wrongful termination lawsuit for $1 million for lost wages and mental anguish.
6. Stopping A Thief Wielding A Gun
Much like their “no-chase” policy, Walmart has a policy against engaging armed civilians.
The episode happened in 2011 at a Walmart in Utah when a shoplifter was caught attempting to make off with a netbook from the store beneath his clothes. A loss prevention coordinator apprehended the man and escorted him to the loss prevention room. Three more employees accompanied him. The shoplifter pulled out the netbook, but also pulled out a handgun on the four employees.
One of the employees managed to seize the gun from the man and disarm him successfully without anyone getting shot. The man was held to the ground until police arrived on the scene. But Walmart didn’t reward the employees for their actions. They were fired under company policy that forbids any employees from trying to take on armed people.
5. Purchasing Toys For Charity With Employee Discount
Well, at least her heart was in the right place.
During the 2002 holiday season at a Walmart in Stewartsville, New Jersey, 20-year-old Walmart employee, Tara Osmun, purchased toys that she donated to charity with her employee discount. The toys were valued at $1,000 and Osmun saved $108. She gave them to the Harmony Township Volunteer Fire Co. which was trying to raise money with a raffle. But when Walmart heard about what Osmun did, she was fired. Walmart’s policy states that employee discounts are only supposed to be used by employees and their families, not for anyone else.
4. Recording Colleagues’ Phone Calls
This case is pretty complicated, so here’s the short version.
In 2007, Bruce O. Gabbard was a computer security specialist at a Walmart in Arkansas. Well, at least until he was fired by the store for spying on company officials. He was caught recording phone calls made between Walmart’s PR team and a reporter for the New York Times. The trouble didn’t stop there, however. Gabbard claimed that he was spying on officials under company orders, saying that it was part of a large-scale operation by the company to spy on its employees and stockholders. When he took his story to the New York Journal, Walmart sued him, claiming that Gabbard took a large stack of confidential Walmart documents with him when he left.
3. Accused Of Stealing Chicken Neck Bones
Walmart really blew things out of proportion with this one.
In 2007, Mary Hill Bonin, who worked at a Walmart in Alabama, was out shopping with her husband when they encountered difficulties operating a self-checkout so they could purchase some chicken neck bones valued at $2.90. An employee had to help them with it. But as the couple tried to leave the store, they were stopped by a security guard who accused them of stealing the chicken neck bones. A fiasco occurred between the Bonins, the security guard, and the assistant manager that ended with the Bonins being arrested by police and taken to jail.
INS was contacted and Mary Hill Bonin’s husband, who wasn’t a U.S. citizen at the time, was deported. Mary Hill was refused bail and was not taken to magistrate court. As a result of the ordeal, Bonin lost her car, her house, and all of her belongings.
2. Being An African Immigrant While Locals Are Unemployed
They call America the “land of opportunity.” At least for some people.
A group of 10 West African immigrants were fired suddenly from their jobs at Walmart stores in Colorado in 2009 for being…well…West African immigrants. They claimed they were let go because their supervisors wanted to give their jobs to local residents who needed jobs. Six of the immigrants said that a manager at the Walmart in Avon, Colorado called for a meeting consisting of the West African employees that worked there and said, “Wow, there are a lot of Africans, and I don’t like some of the faces I see here. There are people in Eagle County who need jobs.”
The immigrants were repeatedly disciplined for not meeting production requirements until they were ultimately fired. Walmart said that the immigrants were a portion of a larger group of diverse backgrounds who were fired due to management changes.
1. Greeting Customers With A Semi-Nude Photo
Well, there goes something you don’t see every day.
Imagine going into a Walmart and being welcomed by a greeter with a semi-nude photo of himself…or at least mostly himself. 65-year-old Dean L. Wooten, who worked at a Walmart in Iowa in 2005, when the incident occurred, had a friend who Photoshopped his head onto another guy’s body. Wooten appeared to be naked in the photo, with a strategically-placed Walmart bag covering up his private parts. Wooten thought the picture was hilarious so he brought it with him to work to display to customers entering the store.
After customers complained, a supervisor told Wooten to stop, but Wooten didn’t listen. Five days later, he was back to his shenanigans. The supervisor fired him. Wooten said he didn’t think he did anything wrong.