Employee fired 'for standing up to a racist customer', given job back

'If Trump wasn't president, you wouldn't even have a job,' the customer told Maurice Rucker 

Erin B. Logan
Saturday 21 July 2018 19:32 BST
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Home Depot fired Mr Rucker five days after the incident last week, but have now backtracked on this decision
Home Depot fired Mr Rucker five days after the incident last week, but have now backtracked on this decision (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

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A US man fired from a home improvements shop after being verbally attacked by a customer has now been offered his job back, over a week after the incident took place.

Maurice Rucker, a 60-year-old black man, claimed the customer launched a racist rant towards him after he asked him to put his dog on a lead in compliance with the New York state store's policy.

Home Depot fired Mr Rucker five days after the incident last week, but have now backtracked on this decision since the US media covered the story. ​

According to Mr Rucker's retelling of the incident to news channel WYNT, the customer said: "'If [Donald] Trump wasn't president, you wouldn't even have a job.'"

"You're from the ghetto, what do you know?"

Mr Rucker, who did not respond to a request for comment, said the man continued with the rant until Mr Rucker decided he had enough.

Maurice Rucker
Maurice Rucker (Image posted on Facebook by Maurice Rucker)

"You're lucky I'm at work, because if I wasn't you wouldn't be talking to me like this," Mr Rucker said he told the customer, according to newspaper TimesUnion.

"I'm a black man, and I have dealt with all levels of racism all my life," Mr Rucker said. "I am not going to accept racist behaviour at work, home, the streets or anyplace else."

"Firing a black man for defending himself seems unfair," Mr Rucker told Mr Churchill, adding that he had been with the company for 10 years and was named "cashier of the month" in July.

After Mr Rucker's firing, Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes told WNYT that the "problem" was that Mr Rucker had not asked a manager to handle the situation.

"We're appalled by this customer's behaviour, but we also must require associates to follow proper protocol to defuse a situation for the sake of their safety and the safety of other associates and customers," Holmes said.

By Friday, the company had changed its tune, telling The Washington Post that it had "taken another look at this" and was offering Mr Rucker his job back.

"Our concern was that he didn't disengage and alert management about a customer confrontation," spokesman Matthew Harrigan told The Post in an email.

Mr Harrigan would not to say if Home Depot planned to provide Mr Rucker backpay.

The Washington Post

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