Lowe's has rehired a Georgia employee who had been fired by the home improvement chain after she attempted to stop shoplifters, getting a black eye in the process. Her firing sparked a social media backlash against the company, with hundreds of Facebook users posting criticisms.
Lowe's fired Donna Hansbrough, 68, after she violated the company's policy against pursuing shoplifters outside the store, the Effingham Herald reported. During the June 25 shoplifting incident in Rincon, Georgia, three suspects made off with roughly $2,100 worth of stolen merchandise, according to an incident report posted on Facebook by the Rincon Police Department.
Hansbrough exited the store and grabbed the shopping cart in possession by one of the thieves, who then struck her in the face three times, police said, causing her "right eye to swell and blacken."
Hundreds of Facebook users chimed in on the police department's report, which noted that Hansbrough had been an employee at the store for 13 years. Most commenters expressed support for Hansbrough and condemned the company for firing her. Some also vowed to stop shopping at Lowe's.
"She worked for Lowes for 13 yrs and they do this to her?" one Facebook user wrote.
Lowe's confirmed Hansbrough's rehiring in a statement Tuesday to CBS MoneyWatch but didn't offer details on why the company reversed its decision.
"After senior management became aware of the incident and spoke to Donna Hansbrough today, we are reinstating her job and we are pleased that she has accepted the offer to return to Lowe's," company spokesman Larry Costello said. "First and foremost, there's nothing more important than the safety of our customers and associates. Products can be replaced, people cannot."
Hansbrough told the local newspaper she knew about Lowe's policy but "lost it."
"I grabbed the cart. I don't actually remember going out, but I did. And I grabbed the cart that had the stolen items," she told the paper.
Hansbrough said she didn't expect to get terminated and was partly motivated by seeing previous shoplifting incidents at the store.
"I just got tired of seeing things get out the door. I just, I lost it. I basically lost all the training, everything they tell you to do. I just, I just lost it."
Hansbrough's experience is the latest example of an employee being fired for trying to thwart retail theft. Grocery chain King Soopers fired employee Santino Burrola earlier this month after he recorded someone stealing food from a Colorado store, CBS Colorado. Lululemon also fired two employees in April after they tried to stop shoplifters at a store in suburban Atlanta.
for more features.