A former employee of a Walmart store in Michigan claims the company fired him this week after he attempted to help a woman who was physically assaulted in the store’s parking lot. Oswald had worked at the store for seven weeks before he was fired.
According to the ABC affiliate WXYZ, Kristopher Oswald, 30, was taking a lunch break during an overnight shift at a Walmart in Livingston County when he heard shouting. Oswald said he was sitting in his parked car when he saw a man hanging onto the hood of a woman's car.
“I observed a person on a vehicle kinda like ‘Die Hard’ mode holding onto the hood,” he said. “But then I saw who the driver was: It was this tiny, little, blonde girl who got out and tried to force this person off of her vehicle. And she’s screaming, and he jumped off the car, grabbed her by the arms … and forced her by the car.”
At first, Oswald said he thought that the two were just joking around. But when he got closer, he said he realized the woman was in physical danger. When he tried to intervene, the assailant leapt at Oswald, punched him in the head and shouted, “I’m going to kill you.”
Oswald said he asked the female driver, “‘Do you need help? What’s wrong?’ and [then] the individual grabbed my hand from inside the vehicle and pulled me into the vehicle and just started pounding me with his right hand.”
At one point, Oswald said he managed to get on top of his assailant, but before he knew it, two other men attacked him from behind. Although Livingston County Sheriff deputies arrived on the scene quickly, Oswald says Walmart was less understanding, firing him for allegedly violating company policy.
The “Manager Comments” of his termination papers stated that “after a violation of company policy on his lunch break, it was determined to end [Oswald’s] temporary assignment.”
A spokesman for Walmart told the Associated Press that although the company understood Oswald's reasons for intervening, his actions nonetheless violated company policy. But Oswald said that he doesn't know how to explain what happened to future employers.
"The last thing I expected was to not have a job," Oswald said. "I don't even know what to put on an application about all of this. How do I say this ended?" When asked if he would have acted differently if he had known his actions would lead to his firing, Oswald responded, “I would always do the right thing.”
It’s not the first time a former Wamart employee's alleged on-duty heroics resulted in their firing by the retail conglomerate. In July, Carla Cheney, a former employee at a Kemptville, Ontario, Walmart, claimed she had been fired for calling the police about a customer who left his dog parked in his car in the store parking lot on a hot day.
Cheney claimed that when she explained the situation to her manager, he told her there was nothing she was permitted to do about it.
"So I [told him] if I did see something unsafe, that I would just go to the police if I thought it was necessary," Cheney said. "He told me then that I was terminated, he wanted my vest, my badge, and to clean out my locker and that I needed to leave."
Walmart stores are owned by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.