A Walmart maintenance worker has been terminated for reportedly failing to turn in $350 he found in the parking lot quickly enough.
Michael Walsh, 45, of Schenectady, New York, was fired from his job as a maintenance worker at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Niskayuna, New York, on Nov. 6, the Albany Times Union noted. Walsh had reportedly been employed by Walmart for 18 years.
A few days before the termination, Walsh was working in the store's parking lot when he found a $5 bill, which he immediately handed over to store management. When he returned to the lot, he discovered more lost cash in stacks of $10 and $20 bills.
The money, which amounted to $350 in total, was reportedly scattered all around the lot and did not come with an envelope or identification.
Walsh said he finished what he was doing in the lot before collecting the cash, counting it and putting it into his pants pocket. He then went inside the store to turn it in.
When he entered the establishment, however, he overheard a loud confrontation between managers and an upset customer.
"A woman was yelling at a manager, freaking out that she lost her money and I got nervous," Walsh, who suffers from anxiety, told the Times Union. "I kind of froze and didn't want any trouble."
Instead of handing over the cash immediately, Walsh went to clean the bathrooms first. He eventually turned the money in to a manager, about 30 minutes after he first discovered it.
According to Walsh, management took the money and said nothing to him at the time. Two days later, however, he was called into the office and told that he was being fired for "gross misconduct" because he had waited to hand in the cash.
During this meeting, managers reportedly showed Walsh time-lapse video footage of him discovering the cash in the parking lot and waiting 30 minutes to turn it in. The maintenance worker was then allegedly asked to sign a statement, for which he never received a copy, and to turn in his employee badge and 10 percent discount card.
Walsh had previously been employed for 10 years at another Walmart store in Glenville, New York, prior to relocating to the Niskayuna store. He said that in all the years he had worked for Walmart, he was never provided with any official rules or guidelines as to what to do with items found on store property.
"I enjoyed my job, I was a good employee and always got to work on time," he added.
"I got treated like a common criminal," he said about his firing.
Walsh, whose job involved picking up garbage, collecting shopping carts in the parking lot, and cleaning the store, received a raise in September. He said the timing of the termination was particularly difficult for him because he will now miss out on a 20 percent holiday discount as well as a life-long 10 percent discount awarded to workers after 20 years of employment.
Walsh has now applied for maintenance jobs at Target, Lowe's, BJ's, ShopRite and Ellis Hospital, and is currently still looking for work.
Both the manager of the Niskayuna store and a spokesperson for Walmart corporate declined to comment on the incident when contacted by the Times Union.
This was not the first time a Walmart employee was terminated under questionable circumstances.
On the same day that Walsh was fired, another Walmart worker, Thomas Smith, was also terminated from a store in East Greenbush, New York, for redeeming $2 worth of cans and bottles he found in a shopping cart, according to the Times Union. Workers rights advocates have called for a Walmart boycott through Jan. 1 to protest Smith's firing.
After being fired, Smith found work at a local property maintenance company, where he gets paid more than he did at Walmart.
These terminations follow yet another incident in February in which Don Watson, a night manager at a Walmart store in Prattville, Alabama, was fired for putting himself in danger when he personally apprehended a shoplifter, AL.com reported at the time.