LegalZoom Blog

Legal news and small business tips.

Being a Good Samaritan at Work

no comments yet



You might think it’s a good thing to come to the aid of someone in trouble. Especially if we are the ones in need of help. But it’s not that simple. Stepping into harm’s way to aid someone while you are at work could get you fired. That’s what happened to Kristopher Oswald, who was a temporary worker for Walmart in Hartland, Michigan.

It was reported by the Christian Science Monitor that while Oswald was taking a break outside, he saw a woman being grabbed by a man. He came to her defense and was punched several times by the man who grabbed her and by two other men as well. Oswald’s temporary assignment was terminated based on Walmart’s stating the he violated the company’s safety policy.

As surprising as the result seems, this may not be a unique situation.

“The incident underscores that gray areas exist in corporate policies. Most policies, specifically for ethical conduct, cover workplace violence and are intended to curb uncivil behavior such as shouting, shoving, and physical attacks on co-workers or customers, says Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. But good Samaritan acts like the one in Michigan would typically not be covered under such a policy, he says.”

The story went viral and social media outrage ensued. Walmart reviewed its initial decision and ended up offering Oswald his job back. USA Today later reported that Oswald declined Walmart’s offer and fears retaliation.

“They could not guarantee that nothing would happen from management if I did take my job,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day struggle. I feel like if I say the wrong thing, I’m going to have a company coming after me.”


ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Sign up for the LegalZoom newsletter!

Written by

November 21st, 2013 at 8:00 am