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Former Walmart Employee Says He Was Fired for 'Trying to Help'

Kristopher Oswald, 30, stepped in to help a woman who was being harassed in the store's parking lot.

Kristopher Oswald, 30, a former Hartland Walmart employee stepped in to help a woman who was being harassed in the store's parking lot while he was on his lunch break.
Kristopher Oswald, 30, a former Hartland Walmart employee stepped in to help a woman who was being harassed in the store's parking lot while he was on his lunch break.

Kristopher Oswald was working the third shift at the Hartland Walmart last Sunday and was taking his lunch break in the store's parking lot when he saw a man and a women in a physical argument.

The 30-year-old Linden man did what he thought was right, and stepped in to help the woman. But Oswald said that decision caused him to lose his job at Walmart.

On Oct. 13, Oswald had been sitting in his car around 2:30 a.m. when he said he saw the first signs of trouble -- a car driving through the parking lot with a man lying across the hood

At first, he said he assumed it was just “dumb kids” being bored on a Saturday night, but as the scene unfolded, Oswald quickly realized that it wasn’t just a funny stunt, but something much more serious.

"She's trying to escape, I can tell," Oswald told Patch. "She's yelling at him and he's yelling at her."

And as he continued to watch, a physical altercation between the couple took place with the man physically grabbing the woman and pushing her into the car. Hearing her screams for help, Oswald said it was at that point he got out of his own car and walked towards the couple. 

“I’ve never ever done anything like that in my life,” Oswald said. “I just saw an opportunity and I saw that there wasn’t anyone else that could do anything, I just reacted. I had to, I had to do it.”

Oswald said his intention was try and verbally talk the man down and insist he leave the woman alone. 

"I looked right at her and said, 'Excuse me, do you really need help?' And she looked right at me and said, 'Oh my gosh yes, please help me.' And I just extended my hand," Oswald said.

It was his outreached arm that Oswald said the man grabbed and "ripped" towards him. Oswald said the man then punched him five or six times before his "fight or flight" reflexes kicked in and Oswald was able to get the man to the ground. After several more minutes of fighting, Oswald said he was then kicked and grabbed by two other men who knew the suspect.

On Oct. 15, after being called in for a work meeting, Oswald said he was given the news that he was terminated for violating company policy and escorted from the building. 

Brave act leads to termination

It was a shock and a disappointment, according to Oswald who was told the night before by his shift supervisor that while he was going to have to suspend Oswald, he thought his actions were “brave and selfless.”

“He (supervisor) told me flat out that he wanted to give me the opportunity to say my side and then they’ll made a decision,” he said. 

Oswald said he was never given that chance, however, and after being called into the meeting with his supervisor and manager, Oswald said he was given his termination papers. 

Patch has reached out to Walmart for a response to Oswald's story.

According to Oswald, the reason for his termination is written on his termination papers and reads: “After violation of company policy on his lunch break, it was determined to end his temporary assignment.”

With only seven weeks into his employment at Walmart, Oswald was still in his 180-day probation period with the company, which is considered to be a temporary assignment, he said.

While Oswald said he is upset with the store’s decision to terminate his employment, he stands by his own actions and the decision he made to step in to help

“This was never my intention -- I wasn’t walking into it looking for a fight,” he said. “But I have what it takes to do what’s right.”

Oswald said he would do it all over again.

"What I did, even though he escaped, it bought her time and she got away,” he said.

Jami Saroli Combs October 17, 2013 at 08:41 AM
I can't believe he would be fired! Would his boss and their higher ups feel differently if the person being attacked were their wife,daughter or friend? I think so! The women said she wanted his help! Just another good reason to stay away from that store.
Laura Bickel October 17, 2013 at 08:43 AM
While Oswald should have called the police before intervening, when one sees another in trouble human instinct should be to help immediately. When that human instinct is extinguished by company policy we see a decline of the human condition. It is unfortunate that this man lost his job for trying to be a good Samaritan. I can understand Walmart's fear of being sued by an injured employee or public but when threat of lawsuits eliminate human kindness we are becoming a very troubled world. Walmart seems to be making a habit lately in the media of stepping on the human instinct to help others in need. It worries me.
Danna Castillo October 17, 2013 at 09:52 AM
Weren't there camera's ON the parking lot? Wasn't the security team or theft prevention team in place? Why didn't anyone from Wal-Mart come to their employee or customers rescue? And although I agree he should have called 911 but instead he just tried to help. If this Wal-Mart employee was being a good samaritan and no other Wal-Mart employees were there to help...shame on you Wal-Mart! Now we know we are not save in your parking lot... Thank You Mr. Oswald for doing the right thing!
Jessica Jones Cece October 17, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Walmart, as a company, has a history of terminating employees who have acted as heroes in defense of others. It's why I no longer shop there.
Rachel Appold October 17, 2013 at 02:41 PM
A lot of people don't shop here for that reason. I plan to avoid any work with Walmart in the future.
Rhonda Leach October 17, 2013 at 07:13 PM
WE SHOP THERE BUT NO MORE
Rosanne October 18, 2013 at 06:50 AM
This is the email I sent to Walmart headquarters. If you do the same, maybe someone will listen: " I live in Hartland Michigan, and was appalled upon hearing that Walmart fired Kristopher Oswald for defending a young girl who was being attacked in your parking lot. I have always been a faithful shopper at Walmart, even "defending" Walmat when faced with ridicule from others for shopping at "that store that buys cheap Chinese goods' and puts all the mom & pop stores out of business. Just as I know that is wrong, I also know that firing a person for defending another human being is NOT the right thing to do. I understand you have "policies" but in this case, you could have written him up, but NOT fire him. He deserves a metal! My entire family is very upset over this and we are all considering NOT shopping at Walmart. I know this is not the best way to handle our displeasure with your policy, but it is the only avenue open as we see it. Sincerely Rosanne Terminelli"
L M October 18, 2013 at 07:06 AM
I agree with this Free Press comment from Dan Bale: "So here's the message to all you female shoppers at Walmart: Walmart thinks so little of you that it basically prevents its employees to just ASK if you need help. I shudder to think if a young child is abducted in a parking lot, screaming his/her head off for help, surrounded by several Walmart employees... "Nope, can't do it, gotta put food on the table for my family, sorry kid." Can't imagine any human being with a beating heart wouldn't come to aid someone in this predicament, job be damned, anyway. But this is how little Walmart cares. It would rather save money on workmen's comp claims and possible litigation than to keep its customers safe." Shop at Meijer. Hartland's Walmart is not a safe place to shop. It is too close to the on/off ramp of US 23, which is a quick escape for an attacker. Walmart doesn't care about you, only your pocketbook.
eddy October 19, 2013 at 09:24 AM
Thanks Kristopher for having the heart to help a young woman in a dangerous situation.Shame on Walmart for firing him they should have treated him like a hero!
Mark Burdman October 19, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Hopefully someone who is reading this story will have a job to offer Mr. Oswald. It is hard to find another Human Being who is hid Brothers keeper. Walmart does have a bad track record but they also have the best deals. Walmarts big mistake is terminating a person who went above and beyond.
DAVID VINCENT October 19, 2013 at 08:15 PM
I hope Mr. Oswald finds a great shyster attorney and leaves Wally World all black and blue and Mr. Oswald see a LOT of GREEN!
Greg Bohn October 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM
What will you do? NOTHING. You will get up tomorrow morning and go about your business, spending your money in Walmart. Why? Because you couldn't care less. All you want is cheap goods- you don't care where they come from just so their cheap. And that's exactly what you are getting- cheap, defective, and sub-standard by design. WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO LEARN?
Thomas Finocchio October 20, 2013 at 07:27 AM
It's nice to know that if my daughter or wife are ever attacked in a Walmart shopping center at 2am, in front of a Walmart employee, it is Walmarts policy for that employee to do nothing to help. As my wife or daughter are being beaten or raped, the employee will turn around enter the store and call the police. I guess the next 10-15 minutes before the police arrive, is not enough time for the rape or murder to continue until completion and escape. I hope that who ever set this policy at Walmart, has their wife or daughter attacked in a Walmart parking lot, in front of a Walmart employee, because they should feel safe with the policies enacted. I'm sure every murderer and rapist appreciates Walmart's policy as well.
mary collins finn October 20, 2013 at 08:03 AM
Where is the woman who was helped. can't she come forward and verify the young man's story? am I missing something?
John Taylor October 20, 2013 at 08:03 AM
Oh yes. Do the whole ostrich thing. Don't get involved. People might think the store actually cares about its customers.
Manuel Espinoza-DJ Music Manny October 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM
Kristopher Oswald did the right thing by helping someone in need. We need more people like Kristopher in this world. Walmart needs to look at each incident and get more information of what happened and why, then determine if termination or recognition is to be given.
arnie weiss October 20, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Good bye Walmart even if you hire him back your republican attitude of the hell with everybody just give us your $$$ & if you get robbed or killed on our property. It's y our fault. I will NEVER shop at Walmart again. Target & Meijers I'm Baack.
DON October 20, 2013 at 11:48 AM
With this unjust firing and also the removal of our dedicated police officer from Hartland its just not safe to shop in Hartland anymore. Never been a fan of Meijer as the constant change of cashiers and replace them with untrained, I hate my D-con, motor oil, and eggs and bacon in all the same bag! Not that this didn't happen at Walmart too! Now with the word out that Hartland in not safe which sends a invite to more scum I think my family will shop in a safer town. Good bye Hartland!
Danna Castillo October 20, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Don, seriously??? I guess with that attitude Hartland is better off without you? ...and the only one getting the word out as you put it, that Hartland isn't safe, is you. Hartland is a great community, with great people living in it. The problem in this article is Wal-Mart's policy not the trouble with Hartland. If you read the Press & Argus, it states it was a boyfriend/girlfriend fight. Not condoning the behavior of this young man one single bit but to make a claim that Hartland is unsafe is just stupid on your part. I grew up in Pontiac, when it was safe...Hartland is Candyland in comparison. The kids however, do stupid kid stuff in any community. All kids make bad choices, Wal-Mart is a corporation, they certainly have lost the support of THIS community because of their choice but what will that do for us? Eventually leave Hartland with a huge empty building. :( Regardless of what you think, I still have #HartlandPride. Thank you Mr Oswald for coming to the aide of someone in need.
cheryl drake October 20, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Will people ever learn? Shopping Walmart is dumb, stupid, and dangerous. A waste of money, going to corporate, and China, not the workers. We need to spread the word, stay away from Walmart.
American Fellow October 20, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Being retired on a low ss stipend, I used to shop walmart lots. But they've changed. These days their goods are just a few cents below the same object somewhere else - not way lower prices like before. I don't really like to shop at walmart anymore. I go many other places now instead of wm, only when I abs. have to go to wm!
dollydaggero5 October 21, 2013 at 01:53 AM
I believe it. Wal Mart treats it's "associates" like crap. I know...I worked for them for 9 months before I told them to shove it.
Phil Collins October 21, 2013 at 07:23 AM
Wal Mart does not want their employees standing up for anything because the next thing you know they might get the bright idea to Unionize.
Sean Smith October 21, 2013 at 08:59 AM
Well, I did quite a bit of Christmas shopping at Walmart for my children....it will all be going back later today. Shame on Walmart for terminating an employee that had the decency to stand up and help someone. I would certainly want this type of employee around when you have an out of control Tierney running loose. In an instance someone could have been fatally injured and I admire him for going to someones rescue (a wonderful Samaritan). In an ideal world yes, call 911 first but we don't live in that world. By the time 911 could have responded something horrible could have happened. Apparently, Kristopher was beat up by the delinquent and I wish he would press charges against the young man. Nothing would come of it most likely since he comes from a well connected family and some money....shame on you Walmart and shame on the young man that is probably laughing at this because he got out of another situation because of his name and money...... The good guy gets let go from a job he needs while the bad guy laughs it off, so sad.
Dennis October 21, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Its time to rid this country of this BS POLITICALLY CORRECT nonsense..The first step in doing that is rehiring this guy and FIRING the jerk manager..How does someone with no common sense have a leadership position?
jthall October 26, 2013 at 06:28 PM
As a small retailer, I have read and heard enough about WMs abhorrent practices, but this one is even more "special." I hope that everyone who has stated that they are through with 'em follows through and that sends a message to corporate that they can't ignore. Nice job Kristopher-you are the kind of employee I would be proud to have. This could be the best thing that ever happened to you. Good luck in the future.

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