Grocery Store Employee Says He Was Fired for Recovering Elderly Lady's Stolen Purse


A Vermont grocery store employee says he was fired after he tried to stop a purse thief at the Hannaford supermarket where he worked.

Amir Shedyak, a 20-year-old Essex, Vermont, resident, said he had worked at Hannaford for four years and was named “Employee of the Month” earlier this year.

During a shift in August, he said he was “waved down” by an associate, so he asked him what was wrong.

“And he was like, ‘an old lady’s purse just got stolen,'” Shedyak told WCAX-TV.

The part-time volunteer firefighter said he jumped into action to help.

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“I look to my right and I see a gentleman running across the parking lot and he had the purse in his hand,” he said.

Shedyak was able to get the purse back, but the suspect got away as they were waiting for the police.

Police were later able to arrest and charge the would-be thief with larceny.

“She was trying to offer me money,” Shedyak said, recalling the woman’s response to his actions. “I don’t want your money, just wanted to help you out, do what’s right.”

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However, his employer was not as impressed by his heroism.

“A few days later I went back to work like usual, except this time I got called into my managers office,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I was told that I would be suspended due to an ongoing investigation of the incident.”

After the investigation, Shedyak was fired “due to safety issues while on company time.”

“It is not uncommon at all for employers to discourage employees from laying hands on customers,” local attorney Pietro Lynn told WCAX.

“There are many cases in Vermont where employers are held responsible for the wrongful acts of their employees.”

Although Shedyak was able to find a new job, he didn’t understand the discrepancy in the liability issue.

“Why should it make a difference that, hey, I’m clocked in now — he’s in trouble. If I wasn’t clocked in — oh, you did a good job,” he said.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith