Frank Swanson worked at Walmart in West Plains, Missouri, for more than 20 years. He came to know many of the customers, offered hugs to those having a bad day, and would even pull out money out of his wallet for those who were short on cash. Frank was a favorite at the local Walmart, which is why the Missouri town has pulled together to protest after he was fired earlier this month.
Frank, a paralyzed and disabled 52-year-old cashier, has received an outpouring of support from his community after he was called to the store manager’s office on April 2 and fired for price matching and for hugging too many customers, which the manager said slowed down his line.
Following his termination, Frank’s supporters created a Facebook page called “Hugs For Frank,” and a rally was held on April 9 in the Walmart parking lot, with more than 700 people showing up to offer their love, support, and hugs.
— KHOM – The Train (@KHOMTheTrain) April 9, 2016
“Our Walmart has decided to fire Frank, the sweetest employee you’d ever meet, For hugging a costumer,” the page read. “So We’re going to Gather at Walmart on Saturday April 9th with signs or t-shirts offering free hugs. Lets do this for Frank.”
Swanson was overwhelmed with emotion at the support he received from the community.
“I’m stunned and shocked – it’s nice to have so many friends,” Frank told People Magazine. “They can’t believe that I was fired. And neither can I.”
“I felt terrible – I was numb,” Frank added. “Fired over the price of tea and hugging people. I couldn’t believe it.”
A Walmart corporate spokesperson, Kory Lundberg, justified Frank Swanson’s termination because he was warned numerous times about the excessive price matching and hugging.
Frank Swanson Fired by Walmart https://t.co/yTtnMjQT0T pic.twitter.com/d9WNTdLBVC
— steve bohnstedt (@stevebimages) April 12, 2016
“Letting an associate go is never easy,” Lundberg said in a statement to the magazine. “It is important to note that we have a progressive discipline policy where performance issues move an associate to the next step. For this associate, point-of-sale policies had not been followed in some instances. A recent violation of those policies moved the associate to the final step of our discipline process, resulting in his dismissal.”
With the help from his attorney, Benjamin Stringer, Frank now plans to challenge his termination under the Missouri Human Rights Act. Per People,
“If an investigation by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights finds that Frank’s disability was possibly not accommodated by Walmart, a ‘right to sue’ letter will be issued, allowing him to file a civil lawsuit.”
Frank became disabled after falling off his grandfather’s pickup truck when he was in the 8th grade. The accident left him paralyzed on his right side and with significant brain damage. His lawyer said he has overcome many obstacles and was happy to make a career out of working at Walmart (he was fired just three weeks before he would have celebrated 20 years with Walmart).
“When Frank was working, his register was known for its long lines of happy customers,” Stringer said. “Many sought out Frank because of his positive demeanor, love for others and his hugs. It doesn’t make any sense when you step back and look at what Walmart has done by terminating an employee with so much community support.”
Luckily, Frank wasn’t out of a job for long. According to KY3, Frank has already landed a new position as a team member of Ramey’s grocery store in West Plains, Missouri. Assistant store director Bobby Roberts said he immediately approached Swanson when he heard he was looking for a new job.
“Frank is the real deal. He’s just genuine and people love him. He is just a great asset to this company,” said Roberts.
“People greetin’ today. Start cashiering tomorrow,” Swanson added.
[Photo via Facebook/ Hugs For Frank]