Last month, Michael Walsh, a Wal-Mart maintenance worker of 18 years, was fired. He’d found $350 in cash in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Niskayuna, the Albany Times Union reports, and returned it after about 30 minutes. Walsh, a full-time employee, was terminated for “gross misconduct.”
“The only thing I did wrong was hesitate,” Walsh, who is 45, said. “I didn’t steal anything. They didn’t give me any warning. They just fired me.”
Walsh said he found a $5 bill in the parking lot and immediately went inside and turned it over to a manager. When he went back outside — his job involved picking up garbage and collecting stray shopping carts — he found a small stack of bills, $20s and $10s, in the parking lot. It was not in an envelope and bore no identification.
He completed his task and when he got a moment, he counted the cash: $350. He stuffed it in his pants pocket. He went back inside the store, which is adjacent to a Berkshire Bank branch, and was about to turn in the bundle when he heard a commotion.
“A woman was yelling at a manager, freaking out that she lost her money and I got nervous,” said Walsh, who speaks haltingly and has anxiety issues. “I kind of froze and didn’t want any trouble.”
Walsh returned to his job, which included cleaning the bathrooms, and he gave a manager the $350 in cash about 30 minutes after he found it. The manager took the money and Walsh heard nothing more.
Two days later, a manager confronted Walsh with surveillance tape and subsequently fired him.
Walsh, who’d recently gotten a raise, to $14.35/hour, was two years away from a 10 percent lifetime discount card for 20-year employees. “I was really looking forward to that lifetime discount card in two more years,” Walsh said. “They took that from me.”