Outcry after store employee says he was fired for stopping purse thief in Vermont

Tanasia Kenney-Mon, September 21, 2020, 11:45 AM EDT

A former clerk at a Vermont grocery store is speaking out after he claims he was fired for stopping an accused purse thief.

Now, Hannaford Supermarkets is facing threats of a boycott.

Amir Shedyak, 20, said he’d just started his shift at the grocery store and pharmacy in Essex when he was flagged down by an associate who told him a woman’s purse had been snatched.

Shedyak, a volunteer firefighter, detailed the takedown in a now-viral Facebook post.

I got fired from Hannafords after working there for four years. I started out as a bagger and worked my way up to the…

“I quickly sprung into action and ran outside,” he wrote. “There were many people outside due to witnessing the act of crime. I asked which way the thief went and chased after him. I was able to subdue him and get the purse back to the elderly lady. She was beyond grateful!”

Shedyak said he returned to work days later only to learn he was suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. Management ultimately chose to fire him “due to safety issues while on company time,” he said.

The news sparked immediate backlash from customers who vowed to take their business elsewhere.

“Shame on you Hannaford Supermarkets,” a woman wrote on the store’s Facebook page. “Firing Amir Shedyak after his selfless act of bravery & especially during these tough times is NOT RIGHT!!”

“I can’t shop at a store that fires hero’s that are protecting little old ladies,” another wrote. “I hope others boycott you too.”

Several others criticized the decision, calling Shedyak’s firing “cowardly” and “disgusting.”

McClatchy News reached out to Hannaford on Monday for comment and is awaiting response.

Recalling the August incident, Shedyak told WCAX3 he grabbed the would-be thief from behind and pinned him to the ground. The suspect got away as he called the cops; however, the former employee of the month was able to retrieve the woman’s purse, according to the news station.

“It’s not like I was going to do this to be some hero,” Shedyak said. “I was like, ‘Hey, an old lady’s purse just got stolen, I want to do something about it.’ ”

Attorney Pietro Lynn, who is not involved with the case, explained the clerk likely was fired over liability concerns.

“It is not uncommon at all for employers to discourage employees from laying hands on customers,” Lynn told WCAX3. “There are many cases in Vermont where employers are held responsible for the wrongful acts of their employees.

Shedyak said he’s found a new job.

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