Heroic Sprint employees fired for stopping a shoplifter

Heroic Sprint employees fired for stopping a shoplifter
It's almost hard to imagine that doing a good deed to the community could somehow throw your employment under the bus. Unfortunately for two Sprint employees, they quickly found themselves out of their jobs after aiding mall workers and security officials with a shoplifter. The event occurred at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center where two Sprint employees on their break, Paul Shoemaker and Mike McGee, found themselves in an unusual situation when a shoplifter ran quickly past them with an Apple store security guard in pursuit. After a slight thought about what the shoplifter was hiding beneath his jacket, possibly merchandise or even a baby, the pair quickly were on foot and following the suspect throughout the mall. Eventually they chased him down to the parking garage where the pair quickly tackled the individual – holding him down until security and police officials arrived on the scene. Apparently the individual had stolen $500 worth of software and quickly follows another incident earlier in the month when an iPad customer at the same Apple store had his pinkie ripped off by a criminal.

After the whole incident, both McGee and Shoemaker filled out the appropriate paperwork and were quickly commended by other mall employees on the good job in capturing the shoplifter. Soon afterwards they received emails from Sprint corporate to describe the incident, but to their dismay, they were told that employees should not confront thieves. Without much breathing room, they were both called into separate meetings where they were informed that they were being let go for their actions – citing that it was being labeled as a form of misconduct. The two long time Sprint employees were obviously devastated by the news and had a Facebook page created to tell the story about the punishment they were given for doing a good deed. Although the two are still fond of the company they worked for, they currently do not plan on taking further legal action due to the cost and expenses of hiring an attorney and going through the judicial process. Hopefully the story doesn't end here because the two employees surely acted on instinct and only did what they believed to be the right thing.

source: Denver Westword



1. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

I can understad were sprint is coming from; I'v worked in retail before and this is a NO NO on such a high level. Also they were safe in the store and security from apple was already in pursuit. Understanding they acted on instinct and good morals I wish sprint would have approached this more sensitively and maybe suspended the employees for a month with ot pay and some retraining. This certainly won't help 2q results.

4. Kiltlifter

Posts: 742; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

And this is exactly what is wrong with the corporate world. If you have the ability to do something for the betterment of society and you sit idly by and watch it happen you ARE the problem. Jerks, and criminals and thieves rob and mug and steal because people like you let them. If every shop lifter was afraid of getting their ass kicked by other shoppers for stealing they wouldn't just think twice before doing it, they would think like 100 times. If i was in the store browsing and saw a kid rip off some material and run, I would pursue, and beat the shit out of him. If there was more news of common weaklings, a.k.a. street trash shoplifters, getting beaten up by normal citizens, a lot of petty crime would stop. If someone had a heart attack and collapsed on the floor of the store and these two employees attempted to resuscitate the person would they be fired then for attempting to help? And yes this is the exact same thing, whether you BS corporate lawyers want to admit it or not. Is it worth your life... blatantly NO it is not. But firing an employee for doing their civic duty is corporate bullshit bureaucracy at its best. Way to go corporate America and fire two of the best employees you could ever have.

9. mr. anderson

Posts: 92; Member since: Apr 16, 2009

except we dont live in the fantasy world you depict. a quick google search will pull up many cases of companies being successfully sued by shoplifters who were injured by employees trying to chase them down, not to mention if the employees themselves are injured. the bottom line is the few hundred in merch isnt worth the legal issues they open themselves up to. now the fact that theyre on break is a little sketchy, but termination for pursuit of a shoplifter is pretty standard in the retail world.

12. fishpower187

Posts: 88; Member since: Feb 22, 2010

+1 KiltLifter, there are wayyyy too many chicken-sh!t bleeding hearts out here for my liking.

18. shimmyx20

Posts: 280; Member since: Mar 03, 2009

Unfortunately if someone had a heart attack, and the employees attempted to resuscitate the person, they may actually have gotten fired, if they didn't have the proper training! There have been instances where people have sued good samaritans for 'improperly' saving them, causing injury to the victim (even though their lives were saved). http://abcnews.go.com/m/screen?id=6498405 This country has just gotten way too litigious and there are aspects of our judicial system that very flawed.

22. K3N422

Posts: 10; Member since: Jun 25, 2009

There is one major problem in this whole story, THEY WERE ON THEIR BREAK!!!! That means they were on personal time, not company time. They acted as individuals, not as sprint reps. Sprint had no business condemning nor even congratulating such an action. Would you expect to be fired for getting a speeding ticket on your way to work? NO. Now, if you were on the clock, that's another story. But the fact of the matter is that they weren't.

28. zerglisk

Posts: 544; Member since: Feb 09, 2010

This is just very similar to the homeless man in New York City, who tried to save a woman from robbery but instead got himself stabbed and killed. The passerby were just looking at him and even taking pictures of a dying man. No one was there to even try to save him. What a shameful world we live in.

33. elpuser

Posts: 50; Member since: Nov 26, 2009

People sicken me

35. Kiltlifter

Posts: 742; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

@ mr. anderson I didn't say employees, I said shoppers. These two were on break at the mall, they were not apple employees. And any lawyer sueing a company on the behalf of a shop lifter should be shot. He is an a-hole and has no business ethics. If that was my brother I would spit in his eye and kick him in the groin for lowering himself to sueing on the behalf of street trash.

36. Kiltlifter

Posts: 742; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

@shimmyx20 You make a valid arguement... It is true that if they don't have proper training then they can get sued back... But likewise if they do have proper training and they do nothing, they get sued again... it is a catch-22 of the shitty society we have developed. "Don't do anything because we will sue you!" and "WHY DIDN'T YOU DO ANYTHING?! We are going to sue you!" You take it up the @ss both ways in this example. I hate the crappy world we have built and even crappier lawyers have perverted and corrupted for their own personal gains.

41. JeffdaBeat unregistered

Come on, this is retail 101. If someone steals something, you cannot physically stop them from leaving the store. You can't accuse them of stealing either...especially if they haven't left the store. And if they have left, you still can't call them a theif because it could have simply been a misunderstanding (I've seen people mistakenly walk out of a store with something and they didn't mean to do it). The company is held responsible for things like that. Plus, the employee runs the risk of being hurt by the robber. Sprint and any retail store would rather lose merchandise than have their employees hurt (I'm sure the insurance company likes this too). I have absolutely no sympathy for these guys. A phone is not worth your safty, I don't care how much you love your company.

42. hcbarclay

Posts: 62; Member since: Dec 20, 2009

@jeffdabeat you didnt read any of the article or any of the posts did you? they were off the clock

2. djroggen

Posts: 10; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Nothing like a little bad PR for Sprint...

13. fishpower187

Posts: 88; Member since: Feb 22, 2010

+1 Dj. Sprint sucks as a company. I worked for them, I have the right to say that. Too bad this doesn't get more attention on CNN or FoxNews or some other mainstream outlet.

3. scorpio85

Posts: 160; Member since: Jan 16, 2010

It would be stupid for them to go any further anyway. Being a Sprint employee, the first thing that you learn when you start is not to be a hero when it comes to robbers. Give them what they want and let them go. If you really think about it, a person that tries to be a hero could piss off a robber to a point that someone gets really hurt or dies.

5. Kiltlifter

Posts: 742; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

They weren't being heroes for their store... they were on break at the mall, not in the Sprint store. If they did this on their day off at another Mall would sprint still fire them then? I think this judgment is unfair. Let's put it this way, if this guy was raping a women in the parking garage and they stopped him, would their punishment by Sprint be the same? Crime is crime, and if you have the ability to help and do nothing to are aiding and abetting criminal activity and actions. Good Samaritan laws should protect them from this sort of BS policy.

8. shimmyx20

Posts: 280; Member since: Mar 03, 2009

No, two different situations. The employees were on break. Now the article doesn't specifiy whether they were on the clock still on a paid break, or not. But if the employees were still on the clock, the company is still liable for what happens, no matter if they're in the store or not. They need to protect their asses too. Do I agree with this? Definitely not. Theives probably know that ordinary store employees cannot pursue, and they take advantage of this. I've worked retail before, and I've had to let people run out the door with merchandise, because I would've gotten fired if I pursued. If I would have twisted an ankle or gotten hit by a car while in pursuit, the company would have been liable.

46. iHateCrapple

Posts: 734; Member since: Feb 12, 2010

Now you say the company would be liable....But do you really believe that? Yea sure you could try sueing them or whatever but then the company lawyers would just proceed to throw YOUR ass under the bus by argueing "it's our policy to train our associates not to do this sort of thing, not to chase criminals and thieves, they did this on their own accord", and of course the decision is left to the judge....who could go either way. This HAS happened before. Be a hero, not a zero!

6. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

I would have done what the sprint employees did. sprint should have commended them for tht

14. fishpower187

Posts: 88; Member since: Feb 22, 2010

yeah, they should have been commended. Look at my lenghty post below. Sprint is and always has been a chicken-sh!t place to work.

7. easytochris

Posts: 126; Member since: Jan 21, 2010

i can understand where sprint comes from because since they were on a break, which is more than likely paid, that guy could take legal action against sprint for being "attacked" by their employees. I only see where they come from because our judicial system is flawed. But I support their decision to do the right thing 120% and i hope that they are able to find employment soon because i would hate to see honest people struggling with the current job market because they did the right thing

43. hcbarclay

Posts: 62; Member since: Dec 20, 2009

actually you have to clock out to be on break...who pays you to be on a break? thats where i want to work

10. ravensfan55

Posts: 15; Member since: Feb 04, 2009

Sprint treats its employees just like its customers. Big surprise, right?

11. fishpower187

Posts: 88; Member since: Feb 22, 2010

Sprint is pure bullsh!t. I used to work for them prior to the merger with Nextel as a Sr. Retial Sales Rep in San Diego. One night I had a tweeked-out customer throw punches at me in my store because I wouldn't give him a free replacement for a phone that he dismantled. For the safefty of the staff and customers, I wrapped him up in a bear hug, threw him out of the store, locked the door and called the police to report the incident. Two days later, I was suspended pending an investigation (they never even asked my side of the story), and within a week, i was informed that my final paycheck was en route to me via fedEx. F-you Sprint. I sincerly hope Srint fails and their management find themselevs chronically unemployed.

15. Phullofphil

Posts: 1846; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I think its a messed up thing that the thieves have any rights at all in that sitituation. I understand sprint covering themselves but I feel its it a little harsh too terminate them. I feel that if some one wants to take that risk to steal somthing and run through and possabily injur other people tring to get away then a bruise or a broken arm is not too harsh of a reality check and if sombody wants to do the right thing then its there decision to chase them down and take care of it. Sprint should not have to worry about a lawsuit because they both knew the risks.

16. Phullofphil

Posts: 1846; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

This world is turning into a bunch of wusses ripe for somebody to take advantage of them.

21. easytochris

Posts: 126; Member since: Jan 21, 2010

not that world, just america. have a problem? sue and we can get it fixed

17. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Guys, This isn't a matter of being a hero. Like mr. anderson said a few lines up; this is very standard for retail practices. Whether you work for sprint or zales the game is the same. Would I want to take a thief out in the middle and go toe to toe and do some bruce lee S$@t and come out the victor; hell yeah. In reality buisness is buisness and every buisness has a bottom line to protect. If employees just start becomng reckless to fuel there ego's then nobody's really stopped anything. As for the former employee's I wasn't there for you situation and I feel for ya, just remember that every action there is an equal and oppisite reaction.

20. fsjon

Posts: 120; Member since: Sep 03, 2009

Gotta give you a plus one for mentioning Newton's 3rd law!!

29. Mr.Nice.Guy

Posts: 7; Member since: Apr 13, 2010

" In reality buisness is buisness and every buisness has a bottom line to protect." IMO part of protecting the bottom line involves protecting and upholding your public image, and on this point Sprint has send a bad message to the general public.

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