‘There Is No Amount of Merchandise That’s Worth Risking the Safety of Anyone in the Store’: Home Depot Responds to Veteran Firing
Seventy-year-old veteran Jim Tinney was fired after he tried to prevent shoplifters from escaping with merchandise from a Home Depot outside of Houston. He acted on military instinct when he threw the paint roller stick he was carrying at their feet and attempted to run after one of the three men.
It turns out his actions are against company policy. Despite trying to stop men running out with thousands of dollars in tools. Two weeks after a company review, he was told he lost his job.
Home Depot’s Director of Corporate Communications Stephen Holmes said via phone that the company policy is meant to protect the lives and wellbeing of both customers and store personnel. “There is no amount of merchandise that’s worth risking the safety of anyone in the store,” said Holmes.
Home Depot has had numerous incidences of either customers or employees trying to impede shoplifters with extremely harmful or even fatal results. “Shoplifters have become extremely dangerous,” said Holmes. He went on to talk about even very recent situations where employees were harmed when shoplifters retaliated by burning down store locations, punching employees until they sustained brain damage, and killing employees.
He said that the retail crime situation is much more sophisticated than it seems. He works with retail organizations that help to set industry policies. Home Depot’s policies aren’t unique.
Retail crimes are often very organized in nature, part of larger crime rings used to fund drug and human trafficking or are part of fencing operations. Holmes said that Home Depot works with law enforcement and the FBI to target larger patterns of crime that can lead to a larger impact.
“Only trained security associates can engage a shoplifter.” Holmes said that there are people on site who know what to do in a shoplifting situation, and that they will respond or not respond according to company policy.
Holmes said that human resources felt the firing of the 70-year-old veteran was necessary after a review. Company policy needs to be carried out consistently. It is not an unusual policy both for Home Depot and for many retailers.
Holmes said that each case will definitely be given a fair review. That’s the reason why the initial decision to fire Dillon Reagon in May was overturned. He was fired for intervening in a domestic dispute that appeared very much like a kidnapping, after a woman asked him for help in a Home Depot parking lot. The decision was reversed in hours.
Holmes said that the decision to fire Tinney won’t be overturned.