Working in retail is not a very glamorous job. Managers often schedule long hours for little pay, while days either drag on slowly for their employees with mountains of repetitive work, or become suddenly stressful with overly-demanding customers. On May 12, Dillon Reagan, 32, learned just how unforgiving this kind of job can be.
For Reagan, that day was just like any other day at Home Depot, where he had worked for four years. It was after dark, so he was preparing to close up the store, located at Mall 205 in Portland, Ore. He told KATU News that while he was working in the tool rental section, his coworker started banging on the door.
“It was one of our lot associates saying, ‘Hey! There is something going on, I need the phone, we need to call the police!'” said Reagan.
The lot associate told him that he had witnessed an altercation between a man and a woman in the parking lot. The man assaulted the woman and pulled a child out of the backseat of her car, fleeing the parking lot. Reagan came outside as the woman screamed, “Somebody help me, he’s kidnapping my kid, he’s stealing my kid!”
Reagan decided to follow the kidnapper on foot.
When his coworker called the police, they advised the workers to tail the suspected kidnapper so the police could intercept him, but to not interact or engage with him.
Without hesitation, Reagan and his coworker left the store and followed the man down the street about three blocks until the police arrived. Reagan then gave a short statement to the police and returned to Home Depot.
The case ended up being a domestic dispute, and no charges were filed, but Reagan sticks to his decision.
“There was any number of twists or turns that he could have taken once he got off the premises, that the police wouldn’t have known where to look for him,” Reagan told KATU News. “I think we did the right thing.”
However, Home Depot initially disagreed.
According to the company, Reagan broke a safety regulation when he left the store premises while duty. NBC4 reported that during meetings with his manager, Reagan was told, “You did the wrong thing. You should have just gone back to work.” He was then promptly fired.
His firing sparked outrage and backlash on the Internet.
Reagan was of course appalled when he was fired. In the past, he had received a single citation at work for cursing at a fellow employee. He could not believe that he would be let go for an incident where he believed a child’s well-being was at stake.
In a Facebook post, he shared the termination letter he received, where it stated that he was being fired because he “assisted the police in preventing a kidnapping.”
Hundreds of comments poured in, mostly from individuals voicing their support for Reagan’s cause. Soon, local media outlets began picking up the story, and the tale of the Oregon man fired for stopping a kidnapping became a viral sensation.
After the heavy negative coverage, Home Depot suddenly reversed the termination in a released statement: “We took a second look at this and have let Mr. Reagan know that we’ve decided to reverse our decision, based on the circumstances. We always do our diligence to make sure associates are treated fairly, which we’ve done in this case.”
Reagan has decided to return to work at Home Depot.
After much deliberation, Reagan said he has accepted his reinstated position at Home Depot. He wrote on Facebook, “I’m still hesitant and wary about going back, but I feel that this is the right choice.”
He told KATU News that despite being fired after the ordeal, “I absolutely would do it again, no changes, without hesitation,” because to Reagan, although company policy is enforced for a reason, “sometimes you have to break the rules to do the right thing.”