A Home Depot employee says he was fired after defending himself against a customer who hurled racist insults at him last Thursday.
Maurice Rucker, 60, said the company let him go after 10 years of exemplary customer service, The Albany Times Union reported. Rucker, who earns under $13 an hour, said a customer approached the check out area with an unleashed dog, so he politely asked the man to leash his canine.
“I said to him, “Sir, when you have your dog in here we prefer that you keep it on a leash,'” Rucker recalled. “He turned around and said, ‘F**k you. You’re an a**hole, you’re a piece of s**t.'”
“He says, ‘If Trump wasn’t president, you wouldn’t even have a job,'” the former employee explained. ‘He said, ‘You’re from the ghetto, what do you know?’”
Rucker said he was taken aback by the incident, saying he’s never had anyone speak to him that way. He couldn’t stand the barrage of insults much longer, however, and decided to speak up.
I said “‘You’re lucky I’m at work, because if I wasn’t, this wouldn’t be happening, or you wouldn’t be talking to me like this,'” recalled Rucker, who was in charge of the store’s monthly “Kids Workshop.”
The disgruntled customer eventually left the store, but came back after realizing he left his dog and insulted Rucker some more before leaving again, News Channel 13 reported. The Home Depot worker thought all was well and good but returned to work the following week to learn he’d been fired.
In a statement, The Home Depot told the Times-Union it was “appalled” by the customer’s behavior but argued Rucker was ultimately in the wrong because he didn’t defuse the confrontation.
“… The problem here is that he had several opportunities to disengage and contact management to deal with the customer,” company spokesman Stephen Holmes said. “In this case, we’re appalled by the customer’s behavior and no one should have to endure verbal abuse, but we also must require associates to follow proper protocol to defuse a situation for the sake of their safety as well as the safety of other associates and customers.”
The customer reportedly called to complain about Rucker after the incident, accusing the recently named “Cashier of the Month” of being racist and threatening him.
“He just told him a bunch of lies and it seems like they believed him,” Rucker told News Channel 14.
After news of Rucker’s firing broke, the backlash against the retailer was swift. Not surprisingly, Home Depot reversed its course and is hoping to get Rucker back.
“We’ve taken another look at this and we are offering Maurice his job back,” spokesman Stephen Holmes said Friday evening in an email sent to several news outlets. Reportedly, Rucker has no intentions of returning to Home Depot and plans to find another job.