Lifestyle & Human Interest

US Bank Employee Reportedly Fired for Helping Stranded Customer Get Home


A U.S. Bank employee from Portland, Oregon, says she was fired after going above and beyond to help a desperate customer on Christmas Eve.

Emily James worked as a senior banker at a U.S. Bank call center in Portland.

While James said she takes calls from all over the country, she rarely speaks to anybody locally.

But just days before Christmas, James spoke with customer Marc Eugenio from Clackamas, a Portland suburb.

According to The Oregonian, Eugenio was trying to collect the funds from his first paycheck at a new job, but the funds had been placed on hold.

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James said she spent over an hour on the phone with Eugenio trying to resolve the issue, and in the end, recommended he visit the Clackamas branch in person the following morning — Christmas Eve — so that the branch manager could verify funds from the issuing bank.

Eugenio followed her advice and got his new boss to verify his employment, but when he visited the Clackamas branch, nobody could help.

The branch manager was out on vacation, there was nobody on site that could lift the hold and the branch was closing early for the holiday.

“[The woman at the bank] said, ‘My hands are tied, I can’t do anything,’” Eugenio told The Oregonian.

Desperate to try and resolve the issue in time for Christmas, Eugenio phoned the U.S. Bank call center a second time to speak with James, hoping that perhaps, something could be done.

Eugenio was at a gas station and frustrated when he told James, “I wish I had just 20 bucks to get home.'”

It was Christmas Eve and James, just a half-hour’s drive from the defeated customer, had a sudden impulse to help.

“And she said ‘Wait, hold on,'” Eugenio said.

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James quickly spoke with her supervisor and got permission to leave work.

She drove to the gas station and met face-to-face with Eugenio, sending him off with a Christmas blessing.

“I handed him $20 in cash, said ‘Merry Christmas’ and went right back to work,” James said.

But U.S. Bank was far from proud of its employee for going above and beyond to help someone in need. On New Year’s Eve, James said she was let go from her job.

Do you think James should have been fired?

The bank’s regional manager told James she had engaged in “unauthorized interaction with a customer,” and fired her, she said.

“She said, ‘We’re sorry, we cannot keep your employment,’” James said.

“They were worried about my safety,” James continued. “He could have kidnapped me or shot me. But I wouldn’t have left or even tried to ask if that was OK if I thought that this person would hurt me.”

James reported that her supervisor, who had given her permission to leave work, was also let go.

James, who had won awards and accolades during her time with U.S. Bank and had never been disciplined before, was left dumbfounded.

She showed The Oregonian the Silver Shield Award she received in 2018 which read, “We do the right thing. It’s what we believe. It’s how we act. And it’s a core value you’ve recently brought to life through your work.”

A second award, from April 2019, praised James for displaying the company’s core value: “We put people first.”

Eugenio said he eventually did receive his funds and feels terrible about the way James was treated.

“I was a customer of U.S. Bank, I needed help, and she went above and beyond,” Eugenio said. “I felt so bad. She was the only one helping me.”

James remains firm that she did the right thing, even if it cost her.

“I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t help someone if you had the ability to,” James said. “It’s Christmas Eve, it’s already a rough time for people, and you’re going to leave someone stranded?”

In hindsight, James realized she could have just lifted the hold on Eugenio’s account because the end result would have been the same.

“Had I known then that I was going to be let go, I would have just removed the hold on the check, because that absolutely would have gotten me fired,” she laughed.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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