If you're on TikTok and other video-based social media, you know one of the hottest ways to go viral is with a clip of outrageous acts of shoplifting. Smash-and-grabs, or brazen walk-offs with carts full of expensive merchandise, are spreading like crazy. Thieves have gotten the message that many stores would rather take the loss than have their employees try to interfere and potentially get hurt or killed. It's a risk calculation, nothing more.
But then there are employees like Beverly Bennett, 61, of Dearborn Heights, who takes (or took) her job very seriously.
WDIV reports on how her successful effort to stop a shoplifter led to her firing. Bennett was at work at the Lincoln Park Kroger, where she'd been employed 31 years, when she saw a man trying to abscond with a cart full of liquor he hadn't paid for. She stopped him and asked for a receipt, and then:
Bennett said the customer had no receipt and was trying to steal the alcohol, so she called for backup and intervened.
Before authorities or other staff members could arrive, Bennett attempted to stop the man from pushing the cart outside the store, resulting in “great peril to herself,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit says that Bennett “brandished a standard carrying basket from the store to ensure that she was not attacked, injured, or otherwise harmed.”
“I swung it at the basket, and I told him, ‘Don’t touch it. You’re not getting this cart,’” Bennett told Local 4.
Long story short, the thief ran off last September and Bennett was hailed by colleagues and her supervisor as a hero. Then she was suspended, and fired, for violation of an "internal policy that had nothing to do with Bennett’s actions," but Bennett thinks it's because she confronted that shoplifter, and they're using it as an excuse to fire her, an exemplary employee, because of her age.
So she's suing, claiming protection under the Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act. Kroger has clammed up, claiming ongoing litigation, etc.
Meanwhile, the customers she's come to know over 31 years of work are being told she retired.
“No, I didn’t retire,” Bennett said.
The lawsuit text is here.