Update 1/24/2020 12:37 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for U.S. Bank tells TheBlaze that an internal investigation determined that senior banker Emily James should have utilized other available means of assisting the customer. The spokesperson also confirmed that James was previously disciplined for failure to follow bank procedures.
The statment read:
Our internal investigation concluded that Ms. James could have helped the customer had she simply used the appropriate solution that was known and available to her. Ms. James has been disciplined previously for failure to follow procedures. She broke the rules, putting herself and the bank at unnecessary risk. Taking disciplinary action in situations like this is always difficult, as it impacts people. We never take this lightly, but the termination was justified based on a review of all the facts.
Original story continues below.
Emily James, a senior telephone banker at U.S. Bank in Gresham, Oregon, is out of a job after giving a needy bank customer $20 from her own pocket.
What are the details?
The incident took place on Dec. 23 when customer Marc Eugenio visited his local branch to cash his work check.
The bank notified the customer that it put a hold on his $1,000 check, which was bad news for Eugenio as he reportedly had no other funds in his checking account.
KOIN-TV reported that Eugenio hoped to buy Christmas presents for his children and take care of his day-to-day expenses, but discovered hardship in having immediate access to the cash.
Eugenio visited another branch, but its employees were also unable to help him, so he decided to call the bank's customer service line for advice. James ended up taking his call, and feeling pity on the man so close to Christmas.
"I said, 'I wish I had just 20 bucks to get home,'" he told The Oregonian. "And she said, 'Wait, hold on.'"
Unbeknownst to Eugenio at the time, James asked one of her bosses if she could take a break and leave work so that she could fill Eugenio's gas tank so he could get home. She was able to leave, and went on to meet Eugenio — who was at a gas station 14 miles away. When she arrived, she handed him $20 and told him "Merry Christmas."
After the holiday break, James found out that she no longer had a job, and was reportedly fired for an "unauthorized interaction with a [bank] customer."
James explained that the bank was concerned that she had put herself at risk.
"They were worried about my safety," James explained. "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 expressed her sadness over the firing in a statement to KOIN.
"I can't change the world, but I can change the world for that one person," she reasoned. "I would rather my morals align with someone who's more willing to support someone like that, than someone who's willing to throw away 2 1/2 years and a lot of dedication."
James added that she couldn't, in good conscience, leave the man high and dry before the holidays.
"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? I couldn't in good conscience do that, knowing it was something I could fix, or at least get him home. 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."
"Hindsight is 20/20," she added.
Eugenio says he feels sorry for James, who he said "went above and beyond."
“I felt so bad. She was the only one helping me," he said, according to The Oregonian.
According to KOIN, U.S. Bank refused to comment on the story because it is an employee matter.
(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)