A logic-defying corporate decision in sleepy Monterey, California last week has turned into a headache for one of America's biggest supermarket chains.
Ryan Young, a meat clerk at the Del Rey Oaks Safeway, was minding his own business and doing his job, right up until Quyen van Tran, a customer, decided to beat his pregnant girlfriend in the store, in full view of other customers, and Young himself.
“Every few seconds he would turn around and push her and then he actually kicked her,” Young said. “I told him to calm down and he was just irate.”
Young said Tran refused to stop and jumped in to stop the assault.
“I saw no one was intervening in the situation and I just became afraid for her safety and also other customers safety,” Young said. “The guy was out of control and pretty much lost it in there.”
Chief Ron Langford of the Del Ray Oaks Police said if Ryan did not intervene, things could have become much worse for the victim.
So Young came out of the whole affair a hero, even according to police. Surely Safeway gave him a pay raise for getting involved, right?
Just the opposite. Safeway has suspended Young without pay for violating company policy. What company police, exactly? This video from CBS 5 San Francisco explains:
That's right. Apparently employees are supposed to just call security and not intervene in situations like this. Young broke this policy, apparently ruining Safeway's attempt to cultivate a reputation for tolerating domestic abuse, so he was suspended.
As of yesterday, if public pressure still has any power, that suspension looks increasingly in doubt. Central Coast KSBW Action News 8 reports that a group of protesters has descended on Young's old place of employment and begun actively picketing the store:
Safeway has reportedly issued a public statement about the event, claiming Young was not fired for the confrontation, but for other actions "prior to the confrontation." What actions they mean have not been disclosed.
Safeway is, however, currently reviewing surveillance tapes regarding Young's incident, and union representatives have been reportedly offering financial assistance to Young as the ordeal goes on. Local authorities have also been given surveillance tapes, though they have not yet been released to the press.
Still, the story has gone viral nationwide at this point. Everyone from the Washington Examiner to Slate has either covered the story or expressed outrage. Whatever happens, Safeway is likely to lose a lot of customers.