Hartland Township, Mich. — A Michigan man said he was fired from his job at Wal-Mart after he tried to help a woman being assaulted in the parking lot of one of the retail giant’s stores and ended up fighting with her attacker.
Kristopher Oswald told WXYZ-TV in Detroit that Wal-Mart has policies against workplace violence to prevent employees from assaulting co-workers or tackling a shoplifter, but that it appears that nothing allows for them to assist in situations of imminent danger and self-defense.
A spokeswoman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. told the Associated Press on Thursday that while the company understood Oswald’s intentions, his actions violated company policy.
“We had to make a tough decision, one that we don’t take lightly, and he’s no longer with the company,” said company spokeswoman Ashley Hardie.
Oswald, 30, said he was in his car on his break about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when he saw a car pull into the parking lot driving erratically. A woman exited the car and man from another vehicle grabbed her.
“This incident was witnessed by six to eight other people because we were all on break at the same time, but I was the closest person,” Oswald said.
He said he approached the woman, asking if she needed help, and planned on contacting authorities.
“She said, ‘Please help, he’s irate, please help,” Oswald said. “I extended my arm and he pulls me into the vehicle ... when I pull my sleeve away he said ‘I’m going to kill you.’”
The man then began punch Oswald about five or six times in the head. Oswald was able to get on top of the man. Shortly after, two other men jumped out of an SUV; one kicked him in the back, he said.
The fight ended when Livingston County sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Oswald said the Hartland Township store’s management gave him paperwork saying that “after a violation of company policy on his lunch break, it was determined to end his temporary assignment.” Oswald had worked for Wal-Mart for about seven weeks and said he would not have been considered a permanent employee until after his 180-day probation.
“The last thing I expected was to not have a job,” Oswald said.
Despite his dismissal, Oswald said he feels justified in his actions.
“What I did, I truly believe was the right thing,” he said. “I just reacted in self-defense. I never threw a punch ... I did question how they can use a policy of workplace violence against me because I wasn’t an employee who assaulted someone, I was a employee who was assaulted.”
The Associated Press contributed.