Why Some People Are Mad Fired E.Greenbush Walmart Employee Is Getting Support [UPDATED]
This story was updated at 2 p.m. on Friday, November 20.
It's been said there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth. Such may be the case regarding a fired former Walmart employee from the East Greenbush store whose story has gone viral locally and nationally over the past two days.
Thomas Smith, a 52-year-old ex-convict who was working in the store, told the Times Union he was let go from his job at Walmart after redeeming cans collected in the store parking lot for $5.10. His duties included collecting carts in the parking lot, but when he found litter where he was working, he said he felt compelled to also clean up and did not see anything wrong with redeeming others' trash.
The Times Union reported Smith claiming he never got a chance to explain himself to Walmart, saying he didn't know that he couldn't redeem the cans he picked up. He claimed that he felt he was a good employee, always doing the right thing and performing his job to the best of his abilities after being hired off the heels of a 15-year prison sentence for armed robbery in 2002, in which he was convicted of robbing a KeyBank on Route 9 in Latham.
Many readers from the Capital Region and beyond felt for Smith, and have since donated thousands of dollars to him through a GoFundMe account set up in his name by a man in Chicago.
But according to WNYT, there's more to the story. "A spokesperson for Walmart tells NewsChannel 13 Smith was fired for gross misconduct and theft inside the store and that the cans had nothing to do with it," according to the news channel.
Walmart claimed Smith admitted in writing to a prior theft inside the store and that is the real reason he was fired, according to WNYT.
On Friday, Walmart clarified the firing to the Times Union further, saying that Smith was fired from his job for redeeming $2 worth of cans and bottles that were left inside the store by the entryway and not found in the parking lot. Smith later told the Times Union that he had only redeemed the cans after he saw the couple that had left them for more than an hour had exited the store.
Walmart said the bottles and cans were the store's property at that point, but Smith said he was never given an employee handbook that stated that he was not allowed to redeem bottles and cans that were left over, according to the Times Union.
Since the story first broke, local agencies, like the Center for Law and Justice, jumped to Smith's defense, encouraging people to write letters to Walmart expressing injustice.
Watch WNYT's story below and let us know if you think Walmart was right for firing Smith, or if he should have been allowed to keep his job.