Hot dog: compassion gets Walmart worker fired

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A Kemptville, Ont., woman is unemployed today after being fired, she says, for asking a customer not to leave their dog in a hot car.

Carla Cheney told The Ottawa Citizen that she was still in her street clothes on her way into work when she saw a man leaving a Newfoundland dog in his car. Cheney told him he shouldn’t leave his dog in the car on a hot day, but was told it was none of her business.  She also called the police, who took down the man’s license plate and went to find him.

Later that day Cheney was called into the manager’s office and told her to report any problems to him in the future. When she said she would continue to go to the police if she felt it was necessary she was let go.

"He told me then that I was terminated, he wanted my vest, my badge, and to clean out my locker and that I needed to leave," Cheney said. “I thought I was doing the right thing.”

She was the second Kemptville Walmart employee in a month to be let go for reporting dogs in cars. Sean Dhaliwal had put in his two weeks' notice already last month when he asked a customer not to leave their dog in the car, but when the customer got aggressive Dhaliwal was told not to finish out his two weeks.

"Now I'm worried that other associates won't say anything and they'll be afraid that they'll lose their job if they do say something," Cheney said.

In a statement, Wal-Mart Canada wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case but it said it has guidelines in place regarding animals in danger.

"Safety is, without question, our number one priority. Each and every associate is expected to address a safety concern as appropriate, and as a minimum inform management," the statement said. "We have a comprehensive set of safety processes and policies to ensure a safe work and shopping environment. Regarding respect for our customers and associates, we are all expected to be courteous and respectful."

What’s the line between an employee’s morals, and a company’s policies? Would you have fired Cheney under similar circumstances?

  • Desariella on 2013-07-11 7:44:26 AM

    No

  • Louis Pike on 2013-07-11 7:58:06 AM

    If the employees was not inside the store, wearing street clothes and did not identify herself as a Walmart employee or say she was acting on behalf of the store, then Walmart has no right to limit whatever rights she is afforded by the law and no cause for firing her. However, it begs the question of how the dog owner knew she worked at Walmart.

  • Janis on 2013-07-11 8:14:42 AM

    As a human being with morals and beliefs I don't think it matters whether you are at work or outside of work, you have a duty to report anything that you see that is a danger to animals or children. You could potentially save a life of an animal or child(ren)

  • André Moreau on 2013-07-11 8:26:50 AM

    What nerve Walmart has!!! Who do they think they are. This is going to come back and literally bite them. How arrogant to assume that any customer's poor judgement is any reason to fire an Employee. Grow a backbone Walmart, show the population you care by standing by your employees when they do the right thing.
    I would not want to serve someone who would leave a helpless creature or a child in a hot or cold car.

  • Anne-Marie Harris on 2013-07-11 8:33:11 AM

    I agree the dog shouldn't be locked in the car, but it sounds to me like she was fired for failing to agree to follow policy, not for reporting on the dog. Still wouldn't have terminated, but depending on tone etc. in conversation with manager that could have been worth a formal warning.

  • Pam on 2013-07-11 8:52:49 AM

    Health & Safety is paramount at all times for all creatures...human or animal. Walmart should be ashamed of itself for firing this employee. As a human being who lives in a democratic society, she has the right to do what she feels is right under the circumstances. If policy dictates she inform them (management) of the issue and she did not then she should be called on it -firing is a bit drastic! However, calling police is still her choice and not her managers decision to make - as long as she informs mgmt. of the issue she has followed policy and it isn't necessary that she inform them that she also called police. If mgmt. choses to call as well..good for him/her. If not..so be it.

  • Vicki on 2013-07-11 10:49:44 AM

    I agree with Anne-Marie that it depends on the tone of the conversation and the employee's previous history. What may appear to be a simple issue could be much more complex. Having said all that, good for Carla for standing up for what she believes in. I for one would be boycotting that particular Walmart in hopes that the message is given loud and clear. Profits don't come ahead of senseless acts of cruelty to animals.

  • Amanda Hanlon on 2013-07-11 5:24:15 PM

    There are many sides to a story... One can only assume or hope that the employer (Wallmart in this case) terminated based on consideration to the overall employment relationship with this employee (ie likelihood of other incidents). Suffice to say they will not fight this LR issue in the public domaine - nor should they. Re the dog on the car - the jerk here is the owner. Wallmart (and all retailers) should in fact announce the dog in hp the locked car along with license plate over the PA system while they await police or SPCA to arrive. Imagine the public humiation. But make no mistake here it is not the employees right or responsibility to become a social activist on the employers property.

  • Julie on 2013-07-12 6:51:53 AM

    If this was the only reason not one, but two people were fired, shame on you, WalMart. I don't want to shop at a store that doesn't put safety first. I think the employees should have been commended for not ignoring the issue. If others were as diligent, maybe there'd be fewer dogs and children that died in similar circumstances.

  • Melaney on 2013-07-16 10:42:48 AM

    Another example of WalMart not caring about the employees or those who may not be in a position of power...why anyone continues to shop there and support their bullying is beyond me...

  • Robert on 2013-07-24 11:08:39 AM

    One thing I am surprised nobody seemed to catch is the fact that the Walmart employee was not even wearing her uniform, nor was she on the clock. There is an even bigger issue here than getting terminated on the basis of doing what was deemed the "right thing". When do employers have the right to place judgement and/or punishment on the actions of their employees when these actions occur outside of the workplace and do not affect the individuals ability to perform their required duties? Talk about a "Big Brother is watching you" scenario! It would have been easier for the manager to deny that it was a Walmart employee who made the call instead of shooting himself in the foot by terminating the employee for off the clock actions.

  • Sheila on 2013-07-12 6:05:54 AM

    Bulls***! Good for this employee! Walmart is the DEVIL!

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