Monday, September 15, 2014

Can You Be Canned For Trying to Stay Alive? Shared by Konrad S. Lee

Thanks goes out to Konrad S. Lee, Associate Professor in the Practice of Law, Ethics and Management at Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University for submitted this resource for the discussion of public policy exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine.

Under the common law doctrine of employment-at-will, in the absence of an employment contract stating otherwise, an employee may be dismissed at any time, with cause, for no cause and even in many cases for a cause that seems unfair. here are certain exceptions to the rule.  For instance, there are statutory exceptions for discriminatory discharges based on protected characteristics or retaliation for whistle-blowing, The NLRA prevents discharges from employment for union activities.  Most states also recognize some level of common law exceptions.  the most common being a public policy exception.  That is, when the employment discharge interferes with or discourages some activity that is otherwise beneficial for society, the discharge may be deemed wrongful.

With this background comes the incident described in this news report from

A video posted to YouTube showed (ex WalMart employee Gabriel) Stewart, then an assistant manager, and several "asset protection" employees inside a small room with a man suspected of shoplifting. The suspect, at one point, pulled out a handgun, prompting at least two workers to restrain him, and take away the weapon. 

The workers were fired by WalMart following the incident and have filed suit claimimg wrongful termination. 

"Our number one concern is always the safety of our customers and associates," said Randy Hargrove, Walmart corporate spokesman. "Our policy is for associates to disengage, if a suspect has a weapon. . . ."We don't want to escalate a dangerous situation further," said Hargrove.  

So WalMart would have their employees "disengage" with an armed and angry suspect and face likely death rather than defend themselves by taking the instinctive action to overpower the gunman. Watch the video below and decide for yourself. Should you be fired for trying to stay alive?  

Video news report:

Raw surveillance video:

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