A community is outraged after a disabled Wal-Mart employee was fired after almost two decades of service.
Frank Swanson, a Wal-Mart cashier who was known for giving hugs, was fired from his position in West Plains, Missouri. Frank says he was 20 days short of reaching 20 years of service at the store.
Drexel Swanson, Frank’s brother, told ATTN his brother’s dismissal was unjust. After surviving a childhood accident that left him comatose for six weeks, Frank has dedicated his life to bringing joy to others, Drexel said.
"My brother doesn’t have a mean bone in his body,” Drexel said. His purpose in life since his accident has always been to make other people feel good about themselves and to bring a smile to their face.”
"He has taken money out of his own wallet to help someone covering their bill at Wal-Mart,” said Babbette Swanson Marsh. “I just wish they would have found a different way to handle this.”
Although many people believe the dismissal was about hugs, Wal-Mart said Frank had broken company policy.
"I can't believe they were firing me because I was doing what Wal-Mart said it does, beat competitors’ ads or match them," Frank said.
According to Frank, his dismissal came about after a customer wanted to price-match a beverage. Although she did not have the ad with her, Frank had seen the offer in a newspaper in the break room, so he honored the price. He memorized competitors’ offers for the customers, according to Drexel.
"And then the boss said they couldn't find that price in sale bills around West Plains,” Frank told KSPR News. “Gosh, I can't believe they would fire me for this. Thinking I was stealing something.”
Frank drove to the competitor in question to obtain the archived newspaper with the iced tea advertisement.
"Kind of feel like one of our own has been hurt,” said Jenn Harper. “He's a sign of hope, he made your day better. If you were having a bad day at Wal-Mart, he would light up your whole trip.”
On the Wal-Mart West Plains Facebook page, hundreds of comments are condemning the store’s actions. A protest called "Hugs For Frank" has been established for April 9, and 1,500 plan to attend, according to Facebook.
Frank has already had two interviews for other jobs, and several local companies are reportedly ready to hire him.