CEDAR HILLS — Four Layton Walmart employees fired after disarming a gunman caught shoplifting aren't the only Utah Walmart workers who intervened in an escalating situation and lost their jobs.
James Dallin, an assistant manager with 10 years of experience with Walmart, was fired Jan. 4 after separating a worker from an angry husband on Black Friday in November at the store in Cedar Hills.
Dallin said Thursday he was violently shoved from behind. Then, he said the husband went after his wife — Dallin's co-worker.
"Flung her, right away, verbally started abusing her," Dallin said.
The man grabbed the woman hard by the arm and berated her as he escorted her down an aisle. Minutes later, the man still had a firm grip on his co-worker's arm and was continuing to verbally abuse her when Dallin said he pushed the man into a shelf and told him to leave, then escorted him out of the store.
The man complained, and six weeks later, Dallin was fired for violating Walmart's policy on "workplace violence."
"The thing I have a problem with is you have to react," Dallin said.
Dallin believes his case and the case of the Layton workers raises questions about security inside Walmart.
"I think the public should be concerned," Dallin said. "If I'm a shopper at Cedar Hills or I'm a shopper at the Layton Walmart, I'm certainly concerned. It's something that needs to be addressed."
Walmart issued a new statement Thursday on Dallin's firing, and also on the company's response to intervening employees.
"After a thorough review of witnesses statements, video surveillance and other information, it was determined that Mr. Dallin's actions escalated the matter in such a way that it put his own safety and that of others around him at risk," Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman said. "What we want to avoid is having a situation escalate that might result in someone getting hurt. Our management team is aware of this and expected to act accordingly."
Lori Poulsen, Justin Richins, Shawn Ray and Gabriel Stewart were fired a week after disarming and detaining Trent Allen Longton, a convicted felon, Jan. 13 at the Walmart in Layton.
A police report shows Longton stashed a netbook computer under his clothes. After being shepherded back to the loss prevention office, the workers say Longton pulled out a gun, rushed them, grabbed Stewart, put a gun to his back and said, "Don't make me do this."
Despite disarming the gunman and holding him until police arrived, the workers were fired under the Walmart policy for dealing with shoplifters. They were supposed to "disengage" and "withdraw" when the gun came out, but the workers contended they had nowhere to go.
The public outcry over the firings has been significant, as evidenced by dozens and dozens of e-mails and online comments posted late Wednesday and Thursday.
Some contained information about other similar cases. Most questioned Wal-Mart's policy.
"They are heroes for all Walmart customers and should be to Walmart," Katherine Lambourne wrote.
John Hitchcock of Bowden, W.Va., sent one of many e-mails promising angry letters to Walmart, or other actions.
"I will travel the extra 42 miles to an Aldi store and never shop Walmart again," Hitchcock said, referring to the Aldi Foods chain.