You would think Safeway would hold up Ryan Young as a model employee, even award him a medal of bravery and honor. But instead, the supermarket chain has suspended the meat clerk after he broke up a fight in which a male customer at a Northern California store was pummeling his pregnant girlfriend.
Safeway's decision, meanwhile, has turned Young into something of a folk hero. There are protests in front of the market in Del Ray Oaks, a petition on change.org with more than 175,000 signatures, and regular mentions on Twitter and Facebook, all calling for Young's reinstatement.
"I just became afraid for her safety and also other customers," he said. "The guy was out of control."
Del Ray Oaks police arrived, and Tran was arrested and has since plead no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge. (He was sentenced to three years probation.)
And while Young says that he was assured by a manager that his job was safe, he was notified the following day that he was being suspended without pay, effective April 22, according to the San Jose Mercury News. He was also not given an end date for the suspension.
The Safeway supermarket chain, North America's second largest, could not be reached for a comment by AOL Jobs. But in speaking to KTVU News, a spokeswoman for Safeway praised Young. "We agree that Mr. Young is to be commended for choosing to intervene," she said, adding Young wasn't suspended for coming to the women's aid. Safeway said it is investigating the incident because of acts it saw on video footage. It didn't specify what those acts were, although the Mercury News quoted a witness as saying that Young struck Tran. The union that represents Safeway workers said it is working to resolve Young's case.
Meanwhile, Young is not receiving a salary and is unable to provide for himself and his own pregnant wife.
The public and local police have rallied to Young's side. Ron Langford, the chief of the Del Ray Oaks police squad, even wrote an open letter in defense of Young, according to KION News.
"Mr. Young's actions were courageous. We commend him for his action that prevented further injury to the victim, protected others and led to the arrest of the suspect in this case," he said in the letter.
Young also has become thing of a folk hero. Safeway's corporate Facebook page was inundated with messages calling for Young's reinstatement. His case also struck a nerve with locals, who have begun picketing the Safeway market in Del Ray Oaks.
"Ryan is a hero," Jennie Tezak of Monterey, Calif., who attended the rally told the Monterey Herald, according to KTVU news. "Domestic violence is uncalled for, deplorable. What Ryan did was heroic. Is Safeway really safe? Not without Ryan Young."
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