You just never know when you are going to stumble onto a situation that requires you to step in and help a person in need. So if you are on a break from work, and see a man beating up a woman in your company parking lot, the noble thing to do is stand up for her. It's the choice 30-year-old Kristopher Oswald made earlier this week during his overnight shift stocking pet food at a Walmart store in the southern Michigan town of Hartland. After seeing a man ambush a woman, Oswald intervened and diverted the man's attention until the police arrived.
But as a result of making that choice, Detroit TV station WXYZ reported, Oswald was fired. Oswald is a recent hire of the retail behemoth, having begun his job about seven weeks ago. His freshly minted status as a Walmart staffer means that he was not yet considered a full-time employee. But the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer still said that Oswald was subject to a company policy forbidding employees to intervene in such situations, according to the news site Opposing Views. And so Oswald was let go.
No one was more baffled by the dismissal than Oswald himself. "I never expected all of this. And the least I expected was to not have a job," he told WXYZ.
ABC News Radio quoted a Walmart spokesperson as saying that Oswald violated the company's workplace violence policy, which bans such actions as the tackling of a shoplifter or assaulting a fellow employee. "We had to make a tough decision, one that we don't take lightly, and he's no longer with the company," Walmart rep Ashley Hardie told The Associated Press.
Oswald says that even though he was let go, he would make the same choice if he had to do it again. "I am always going to act the right way and do the right thing even after all this," ABC News Radio quoted him as saying.
Twitter users are rallying to Oswald's side. "Walmart: Give Kristopher Oswald back his job," tweeted Paula Reed. Some are going further. Twitter user ChristianJimmy declared, "My family and I are boycotting your store for the firing of Kristopher Oswald."
For Oswald, it would have been easy to have avoided the confrontation altogether. The incident reportedly occurred at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday as Oswald was sitting in his car during a break from his overnight shift. When Oswald first noticed a man and woman tussling, he thought they may have just been horsing around, but he decided to check out the situation anyway, he said. After asking the woman if she needed help, the man got angry and began punching Oswald, he said. The woman has not been identified.
The former Walmart staffer said that he was next able to pin down the man, but two other men soon appeared on the scene to help out the assailant. The police did arrive shortly thereafter, but not before the man who Oswald originally confronted had escaped.
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