Could Santa Sue Macy's? Fired John Toomey Speaks Out
Santa Claus could be ho ho ho-ing all the way to the bank if a prominent human rights attorney has his way.
John Toomey, the man who has been known as Santa John for the past 31 years was unceremoniously fired from his annual job as Santa at the Union Square Macy's in San Francisco, after an adult couple complained about a joke he'd been telling grown-ups for years.
"You'd think an adult couple who came to have their picture taken on Santa's lap would have a sense of humor," said Toomey, a 68-year-old retired caretaker who is still jolly and optimistic despite the fact that he just lost the only job he has all year.
One reason for his good cheer is the fact that all the media attention is garnering other job offers, such as the one from local restaurant Lefty O'Doul's, which needs help with its annual toy drive.
Another reason Santa John is still jolly is the offer that came from a human rights activist in San Francisco. "He thinks there might be enough 'mishegas' here to get something out of it," said Toomey, who told AOL Jobs he is not Jewish but knows the Yiddish term from having grown up in New York.
The exchange that got Toomey fired went something like this:
Santa: Have you been good this year?
Couple: Yes Santa.
Santa: That's too bad. Do you know why Santa is so jolly?
Couple: No Santa.
Santa: That's because Santa knows where all the bad boys and girls live.
Toomey is adamant about never having this exchange with children. With the little ones, he only talks about what they want for Christmas. And he's never had a complaint, until now.
"They (the offended couple) were just fine when they got up off my lap," says Toomey. "But apparently they were appalled once they got to the Macy's offices."
Despite the outcry, Toomey has not heard word one from Macy's since the inauspicious event occurred. He was informed that his services "were no longer required" as he was preparing to go to work the next day -- by the manager of the event company that arranged the gig for him.
Apparently word had come down from Macy's corporate headquarters in New York, not from the managers of the San Francisco Macy's where he'd been working for so long. "My guess is that the couple probably thought they could have a lawsuit (for injurious insult) against Macy's so they kicked it upstairs to New York," Toomey told AOL Jobs.
Meanwhile, the citizens of San Francisco are not happy. Those who worked with him on the seventh floor "Santa Land" are surprised, and feel the firing was a definite overreaction. Many Bay area residents make it a holiday tradition to pay a visit to Santa John, who is known for his authentic beard and deep, merry "ho ho ho's." They are not pleased to find a replacement in his chair.
Toomey lives the rest of the year in the mountains north of Oroville, Calif., but usually spends the time in between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve in a hotel on Market Street, working seven days a week. He's staying in the city for now, confident his next gig could be waiting for him in one of the numerous messages that have been flooding his cell phone message box.
After all this, he still wishes everyone a "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night." Even Macy's.
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.