Home Depot employees fired for pursuing shoplifting suspects
BOARDMAN, Ohio - Two men are speaking out after being fired from their jobs at Boardman's Home Depot for trying to stop two suspected shoplifters.
The men admit the store has a policy for employees when it comes to shoplifters, but in this case they say they were specifically asked to help a co-worker, and they would do it again.
Just hours after Dave DeMichael was honored for best customer service at Boardman's Home Depot last Wednesday, the department supervisor was fired.
DeMichael was given his walking papers, accused of putting himself and the company at risk by pursuing a shoplifter out in to the parking lot. DeMichael says, "This company says if you go out there to help, you're done."
But DeMichael says the store's loss prevention officer actually asked him and an assistant manager to help him stop the suspected shoplifters from leaving the store. He says they didn't hesitate because they were concerned about their co-worker's safety.
The suspected shoplifters were twice his size according to DeMichael. "When I got out there, I could see him trying to stop the shoplifter at the time. The suspect grabbed the loss prevention officer and he was dragging him out in to the parking lot."
Jamie Smith, who has worked for Home Depot for 14 years and was an assistant manager in Boardman, was also fired. He rushed to the aid of the co-worker, and a customer who used his own car to try and block the suspects from leaving.
The suspects, 52-year-old Charles Parisi, Sr., and his son 23-year-old, Charles Parisi, Jr. were arrested a short time later and are in police custody.
Smith says, "Do I regret what I did? No. I don't regret what I did. I did what I thought was right."
The men say they're not interested in getting their jobs back, but they do intend to file a lawsuit against Home Depot.
They believe the company's policy sends the wrong message to criminals.
However, a representative from Home Depot's corporate office in Atlanta tells 21 News the associates were not terminated for helping a fellow associate in danger.
Stephen Holmes with Home Depot's corporate office says, "No merchandise or other asset is worth risking the life of our associates or customers, which is why we have a strict policy against pursuing a shoplifter in a manner that creates a safety risk for anyone, and that includes chasing shoplifters across the parking lot. In this case, store cameras clearly showed that the associates violated the policy after the struggle between the asset protection associate and the shoplifting suspect had ended. We strictly enforce this policy due to serious accidents that have occurred in the past, but we always review and consider any mitigating circumstances to ensure we're treating our associates fairly."