In a scene right out of a movie, a retail worker sprung into action to stop a kidnapping in progress. A young mother was screaming in the parking lot as a domestic dispute turned into a kidnapping. The mother pleaded for help, and this cry was answered by two workers at the local Home Depot. After calling the police, the pair of employees gave chase to the suspect and helped to avoid a far worse situation. News of this brave act spread quickly; it was a viral sensation. What happened next defied odds as the employer was not only not supportive of the heroic act, but fired at least one of the employees involved. Dillon Reagan was fired for not following store policy.
The incident in question occurred on May 12th. As Reagan explained:
“…he was finishing his shift in the store’s tool rental center when things turned chaotic. He said a coworker yelled at him for help after witnessing a violent, domestic dispute in the parking lot.
“I stepped outside and sure enough, there’s this lady whose frantic and crying, ‘Somebody help me please! He’s stealing my kid, he’s kidnapping my child!’
Reagan and his coworker excused themselves from the store and called police. Reagan said, at the dispatcher’s urging, they followed the man on foot until police responded about three blocks away. After giving their statements to police, Reagan said they returned to the store about 10 minutes later.”
After the event, Reagan and the other worker returned to the store to finish work. At the time he was told by his supervisor that he should have ignored what was happening outside and returned to the store. The supervisor verbally reprimanded Reagan for getting involved in the violent dispute. At the time, Reagan explained, “…the only thing I was thinking about was the child’s safety.”
Even after being verbally chastised at work that evening, Home Depot allowed Reagan to remain on the job for a full month. He was fired on June 19 for his heroic actions that day and for an earlier warning where he was written up at work. His supervisor counted him leaving to aid the woman in distress as a direct violation of his store policy.
Reagan had been employed at the store for four years when he was fired. The Portland, OR location seemed to overlook the fact that he stepped in to end an escalating situation and for all intensive purposes saved a child from being kidnapped. The only thing the store management seemed to be concerned about what following their corporate policy about staying on site during an assigned shift.
Faced with losing his job and source of income, one might wonder if Reagan had any regrets about getting involved that evening. As he told reporters, “…it was still the right thing to do. I was kind of in a catch-22 situation; I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”
At first, it seemed like corporate Home Depot supported the firing. This changed as news about the firing hit social media and the press. After a huge backlash from the local community, Home Depot took the time to look more closely at the firing. According to a press release about the social media outcry:
“This was a very complex situation, so we’re taking another look at the decision. We always want to be certain that we’re treating any associate fairly.”
After weighing the bad press they received from firing Reagan with whatever they felt they gained from the action, Home Depot later updated the above press statement:
“We took a second look at this and have let Mr. Reagan know that we’ve decided to reverse our decision, based on the circumstances. We always do our diligence to make sure associates are treated fairly, which we’ve done in this case.”
In the days after getting his job back, Reagan was not sure if it was wise for him to return. He did take some time to think it over and eventually returned to work. Reagan explained his thought process to return to Home Depot:
“When asked if he would work for Home Depot again, Reagan initially responded, “Honestly, at this point, no.”
After some consideration, Reagan decided to take them up on their offer to restore his job with back-pay.
“Going back to work at Home Depot may not be ideal and I am still hesitant and wary about being back, but I think it’s the best choice, right now,” he said.
Reagan added that he enjoyed working with the people in his department and helping customers with projects.”