Walmart Worker Jan Sullivan, Fired After Black Friday Fracas, Now Near Poverty

It isn't easy working in retail on Black Friday, the notorious shopping day following Thanksgiving. Big-box retailers offer their top discounts, and shoppers respond with mad rushes through the check-out line.

So Jan Sullivan, who stands 4 feet 11 inches and is 73, was hardly in an enviable situation last November when her employer of 22 years, Walmart Stores Inc., assigned her the task of stopping customers from leaving through the exit door at a branch in Bay Pines, Fla.

Sullivan, who normally worked as a Walmart greeter, says she tried to stop one customer from taking the wrong exit, when she was pushed. She then says she lost lost her balance, and grabbed onto the customer's sweater. The customer proceeded to leave the store, and Sullivan thought that was the end of it.

But three days later, Sullivan was fired, according to the Tampa Bay Times. And now, she finds herself in dire straits. She's burned through her savings, and owes $3,000 on her Discover card. "I'm 73 years old," she says. "Who's going to hire me?"

More: 7 Part-Time Jobs That Pay Up To $40 An Hour

It's been a dramatic fall for the Walmart employee who once proudly wore a vest with the words stitched on it, "20 Years of Dedicated Service." She's twice divorced with no kids after both her fallopian tubes burst during two failed pregnancies. A nephew makes sporadic visits.

Her story has touched a chord with her neighbors in her community, in which she just sold her two-bedroom cinderblock home. (She's moving to a nearby mobile home, which cost her $3,000.) One neighbor, Jeff Wetherbee, was so moved about what happened to "the little old lady across the street who makes peanut brittle for the neighborhood every Christmas" he contacted the media on her behalf.

For its part, Walmart says it was forced into action by its rule forbidding employees to touch customers under any circumstances.

"Regardless of her intentions, her actions put her own safety and possibly the safety of a customer in jeopardy," Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling told the Tampa Bay Times. "We can't condone behavior where associates take matters into their own hands."

More: $100,000-A-Year Jobs That Don't Require A College Degree

The company wouldn't comment further on the case's details. But the experience of workers finding themselves overwhelmed on Black Friday is not limited to Sullivan, or Walmart. A 36-year old female worker of Target, also in Florida, was so exhausted last November she lost control of her car and drove it into a canal, according to Florida Police, which didn't name her. She was able, however, to swim to safety, according to the Miami New Times. Back in 2008, a worker died at a New York Walmart after being trampled in a Black Friday stampede.

Sullivan, meanwhile, hasn't totally given up on her own job search, and sends in dozens of applications to sporting goods stores her area. And while she says obviously misses the paycheck, she's also grown nostalgic about the camaraderie at work. She says, for example, she'd like one more chance to cook chicken for the company's All Children's Hospital Fundraiser.

"Walmart was like my home," she says. "Like my family."

Walmart to Kick Off 'Black Friday' 10pm Thanksgiving Night

Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now

More From AOL Jobs

Looking for a job? Click here to get started.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Know one seems to want to the other side of the story. Shes believes her own lies. I cant wait untill the video hits you-tube and you people will look like fools. She was clearly wrong, the woman was out the door and she PULLED her back in the store and pinned her. There was no balance lost. So keep believing the poor old lady, shes lying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 09 2012 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil Collins

Wal Mart the armpit of America who needs them - Boycott the Bums I am with you !

July 08 2012 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Time to hit Wal-Mart were it hurts.

July 05 2012 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its simple, sue Wal-mart for wrongful termination. Wal-Mart doesn't care about their customers and they damn sure dont care about their employees. Its high time to hit Kroenkie where it hurts, his wallet.

July 05 2012 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mighty wizard


July 05 2012 at 10:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what Rose replied I am taken by surprise that you can earn $7516 in 4 weeks on the internet. did
you read this webpage MorePay3

July 05 2012 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is when people need to stick together and BOYCOTT the store till they hire her back . People can stop this behavior IF we just stick together!!!!

July 04 2012 at 8:16 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Queenlady's comment

YOu are right on! I hate walmart but not as much as Lowes foods. They are both lousy to their employees. They came in a few years ago and told fultime workers they could have a pt job or nothing. then they sell you on the sorry insurance to make you think they are " good for you". When will all people in this country wake up. Boycott is a beautiful word, business does not do anything till you tell them in the pocketbook.

July 05 2012 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Wise One

Walmart is at the top of the list of the most horrible and completely disgusting companies on the face of this planet. It is an awful place to work at and their idiot, in store 'managers' are a clueless pack of incompetent fools! I have nothing but complete contempt and disdain for thes as an American corporation. They are a total embarrassment to this country.

July 04 2012 at 8:15 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

All Corporate attorneys and finance people should be lined up naked and horse whipped. They are the cause of all the ills in our business system. They lack common sense and the ability to understand human behaviors and have no empathy for either customers or employees.

July 04 2012 at 8:07 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ronnybrume's comment

You forgot to mention the greed factor.

July 09 2012 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That will teach Walmart from having those dopey store greeters.

July 04 2012 at 7:55 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Davie2743's comment

Have a heart Davie; Some people do what they can. I once was harsh to a greeter and still think of it sometimes. They can not help that wmart is a jerk.

July 05 2012 at 5:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web