BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Did a good deed go too far? An employee at the Hannaford supermarket in Essex says he tried to stop a purse thief at the store but was then fired for his actions.
A viral post from Amir Shedyak is grabbing attention. The 20-year-old Essex resident says he worked at the Hannaford there for four years and was even named employee of the month earlier this year. But in August as he started his shift, he was waved down.
“And he was like – an old lady’s purse just got stolen,” Shedyak recalled. The part-tie volunteer firefighter says his immediate reaction was to jump in and help. “I look to my right and I see a gentleman running across the parking lot and he had the purse in his hand.”
Shedyak says he grabbed the suspect from behind and held him down, getting the purse back. While calling the police, he says the suspect got away, but he was able to return the purse.
“She was trying to offer me money. ‘I don’t want your money, just wanted to help you out, do what’s right,’” he recalled.
Police later confirmed that Adrian Moore, 29 of Essex was charged with larceny. He’s the man Shedyak stopped in the parking lot. Shedyak says his actions to step in and help caused him to be suspended and then fired by management at the store.
Hannaford would not respond to questions about the incident, saying in a statement, “We do not comment on personnel matters.”
Paperwork from Shedyak says this was not his first time intervening with thefts. “It’s not like I was going to do this to be some hero. I was like, ‘Hey, an old lady’s purse just got stolen, I want to do something about it,’” he said.
“It is not uncommon at all for employers to discourage employees from laying hands on customers,” said Pietro Lynn, a local attorney who is not involved in the case. He says it makes sense for a company like Hannaford to not want their employees interfering because an injury of the employee, customer, or other liability issues can be expensive.
“There are many cases in Vermont where employers are held responsible for the wrongful acts of their employees,” Lynn said.
But that answer doesn’t satisfy Shedyak. “Why should it make a difference that, hey, I’m clocked in now — he’s in trouble. If I wasn’t clocked in — oh, you did a good job,” he said.
Lynn says for employers and employees, the best thing to do is just call the police instead of stepping into a dangerous situation.