Meijer worker says he's fired for putting out fire

A retired mail carrier said he's been fired from a job as a greeter at a retail store in northern Michigan after rushing to the parking lot to put out a vehicle fire.
AP Wire
Dec 15, 2013

David Bowers, 62, said he grabbed a fire extinguisher when a customer entered a Meijer store in Gaylord store last month pleading for help. Meijer, a Midwest chain, won't specifically comment on the matter but said it has policies for dealing with an emergency.

"The one supervisor told me that my heart was in the right place but my brain wasn't," Bowers told TV station WPBN-WTOM.

His wife, Lynn Bowers, said the couple decided to go public after receiving a cheery Christmas card from Meijer just a few days ago.

"I was furious. We couldn't believe it," she told The Associated Press on Friday, referring to the card. "It was the perfect job for him. He loves to talk."

Ken Kuzon needed to put out a fire in the glove box of his van on Nov. 14. Bowers said he left the store and handed a fire extinguisher to Kuzon. The flames were out in seconds.

Bowers, who was paid $9.30 an hour, returned to his post greeting shoppers.

"My truck would've been completely burned. ... I just think it's ridiculous. Why should you be penalized for being a good Samaritan?" Kuzon said.

Grand Rapids-based Meijer released a statement suggesting Bowers should not have dashed to the van.

"We have well-established safety procedures for emergency situations, and we train all team members on those procedures," Meijer said. "These procedures help ensure the safety of everyone, both customers and team members, and our team members know there are consequences when they don't follow them."

Bowers had worked at Meijer for about 4½ years. He and his wife delivered mail for years in the Detroit area before retiring from the U.S. Postal Service and moving to northern Michigan.

"He's very bummed out," Lynn Bowers said. "It's a split-second decision you make. He was never told there was a procedure for a car fire."

Bowers once got in hot water for chasing a shoplifter but otherwise had a good record at Meijer.

"If they offered me the job back, I would go back," he told AP. "I know Meijer signs the paychecks, but my thought was I always worked for the people coming in and out those doors. It was similar to being a mailman. I took care of those customers."

In October, a Wal-Mart employee in Michigan's Livingston County was fired after he tried to stop an assault in the parking lot while he was outside on a break. The retailer later invited him to return to work.

 

Comments

jjabrahms

What in the world is Meijer trying to do????? Keep up with Wal-Mart???

Tri-cities realist

No doubt! I would love to know what their "procedure" for a car fire is. Probably something along the lines of call 911 (and wait to see how long the response takes), alert store security (who may be in the back of the store), and watch as a minor fire grows. Hopefully, this man will be rewarded for doing the right thing, and get his job back.

migpilot

As usual the Lawyers determine the outcome. A constant look back for the liability involved if people don't follow procedures at work. To protect yourself you need to run your personal life like that as well. What a depressing concept. Pretty soon it will be inadvisable for Santa to deliver presents.

LessThanAmused

And these are the same outfits that complain about not being able to find good employees too!

This quote irritates me considerably....

"We have well-established safety procedures for emergency situations",

Really? What kind of procedures do you develop to prevent people from doing the RIGHT thing?
So disingenuous on Meijer's part...they're only worried about their own liability if something happened to their employee during his good samaritan act. They're just worried about covering their own butt, doing the right thing doesn't even factor into their thinking.

Not that we need another example, but this is exactly the type of thing that illustrates the reason this country is going into the dumper, alittle bit more everyday.

"Sorry buddy, I need to keep my piddly job, guess you're on your own, let that sucker burn"!

Talk about building a sense of community....

deuce liti

This is the same company that wrote up an employee for having a heart-attack on the job. He was there less than four hours into his shift. That's how they rewarded his many years of service.

BTL2A

This is a result of our sue everyone mentality.
A guy doing the right thing gets fired because if he is not it would set a presidence and would open up the retailer to be sued if this were to happen again and the employee were to get injured.

Back to the Wall

Phooey on Meijers.

I'm going to Leppink's this week. I'll pay a bit more, and it'll take longer to find things, but I'm going to get my groceries at Leppink's this week.

BTL2A

This week only or going forward?

Back to the Wall

I'm obligating to this week only. I'll check it out tonight and report back. I'm sure there's a Thrifty's receipt laying around somewhere I can use as comparison.

Oh, by the way, mash the link and tell Hendrick how you feel...

http://help.meijer.com/app/ask

SignalMaintainer

Eh, it would be easier just to contact the executives directly. They can be reached at (these are publicly available, so I am NOT posting private information; I'm not a jerk like that):

Meijer Executive Contacts:

Hendrik Meijer: hendrik.meijer@meijer.com , 616-453-6711
Elmer Robinson: elmer.robinson@meijer.com , 616-791-3748
Doug Meijer: doug.meijer@meijer.com , 616-453-6711
Bruce Efird: bruce.efird@meijer.com , 616-453-6711
Jerry Wielichowski wielichowskij@meijer.com , 414-367-8750
Al Blackburn ablackburn@meijer.com , 231-876-2801
Molly Sharphorn molly.sharphorn@meijer.com , 231-744-7601
Susan Pifer susan.pifer@meijer.com , 616-453-6711
Rob Fleener fleenerr@meijer.com , 616-453-6711

Human Resources Executives:
Karen Morris karen.morris@meijer.com , 616-453-6711
Katherine Hardman khardman@meijer.com , 586-566-0400
Cheryl Johnson cheryl.johnson@meijer.com , 616-735-8560
Stacie Behler stacie.behler@meijer.com , 616-791-3213

Oh, and check out the comments in their Facebook page. It has been blowing up for the past week (the tribune was a bit slow on this story). The story has made it all around the world and gone totally viral. Thousands upon thousands of people tearing Meijer a new one on their Facebook. They have started deleting some comments though.

watchingyou

You might not pay more at all. A lot of their prices at Leppinks and at Orchard have been less or slightly more than Meijers and Walmart lately. Enough at least to figure my fuel savings in to make it worth it. I shop there a lot more often since I figured that out. And I don't have to wait in line.

Back to the Wall

Nothing to report this week. The Secretary of Budget went up against the War Department and we went to Meijer's.

Thanks, S.M., for the direct links to Meijer executive wing. Between family, snow shoveling, holiday preparations and a day job, my Google-fu has weakened.
Evidently my negotiating skills have weakened, too.

NEVERTHELESS, the responses from Walker HQ are making it sound like the firefighter has had some other run-ins with corporate policy. Perhaps this incident was their clear chance to cut him loose? Maybe Meijer is taking the High Road on this one?

Additionally, it appears the firefighter broke the story to the press himself.

An epic public relations fail, nevertheless.

To Leppink's for next week's full load anyhow. I like the cutout of the founder at the front door. He's holding a cigar.

rukidding

I contacted Meijer and let them know what I thought about their procedures and policies; this was their reply to me.

Thank you for contacting Meijer.

We appreciate and understand your passionate response to the recent issue in Gaylord. Please be assured that this was not a random decision. We have well-established safety procedures for emergency situations and we train all team members on those procedures. These procedures help ensure the safety of everyone - both customers and team members, and our team members know there are consequences when they don't follow them. In this particular case, we feel we have to respect the privacy of the team member and therefore cannot get into the details which led us to this point.

Thank you again for taking the time to write. We appreciate your business, and sincerely hope we have the opportunity to serve you again in the future.

Respectfully,

Meijer Customer Care

LessThanAmused

That sounds suspiciously just like their statement in the above article. Form letter anyone? Nice to know that they value your "passionate response" enough to spend 6 seconds to cut and paste their reply.

We need a huge gunny sack to stuff all the lawyers in, toss said sack into the river and wait for the bubbles to stop rising to the surface. Then, the world might start to get more human and more humane again.

rukidding

I did what I could, they do what they do; not much else to do really.

LessThanAmused

Yup, you did more that most would do, rest easy.

SignalMaintainer

On their Facebook page they posted the SAME response for every single comment, into the thousands.

Meijer is doing an absolutely horrible job with PR at the moment. If you want to contact the executives, see my post above.

Wingmaster

You nailed it with the lawyers and litigation f#*king up what used to be a more caring society. Ya ain't in Mayberry anymore!

LessThanAmused

Hiccup.

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