Home Depot has apologized and rehired a man who was fired for standing up to a racist customer, Yahoo News is reporting.
Maurice Rucker, 60, was working at the Albany, New York Home Depot store a week or two ago when he and a customer had a disagreement. The customer, who is white, brought his dog to the store. Rucker, who is black, asked the customer to put the dog on a leash. The customer, however, wasn’t having it.
“You’re from the ghetto. What do you know?”
Further, says Rucker, the customer told him that he (Rucker) wouldn’t have a job if Donald Trump wasn’t president and that Barack Obama was a “Muslim who didn’t know what he was doing.” Similarly, according to The Albany Times Union, the customer repeatedly used the F-word in his tirade against Rucker.
Now at this point, it bears noting that Home Depot’s policy on hostile customers is almost certainly the same as any retail store’s policy: don’t be dragged into a dispute with a customer and instead call a manager. Rucker, who had even been named the Cashier Of The Month at the store at some point in his career, didn’t obey that policy.
Instead, Rucker demanded that the man leave the store, and in the process, gave him a piece of his mind.
“You’re lucky I’m at work, because if I wasn’t you wouldn’t be talking to me like this.”
Rucker further claims that the man returned to the store later – having left his dog there, for some reason – and continued to barrage Rucker with insults.
Maurice had been with the company for ten years. Protocol or no protocol, he wasn’t going to let the customer’s behavior that day stand.
“I’m a black man, and I have dealt with all levels of racism all my life. I am not going to accept racist behavior at work, home, the streets or anyplace else.”
What happened next isn’t clear. But five days later, Rucker was fired. Officially, according to both his manager and to a later statement from the company, it was because he didn’t follow protocol.
“We must require associates to follow proper protocol to defuse a situation for the sake of their safety as well as the safety of other associates and customers.”
After Rucker’s story went viral on social media, however, the company had a change of heart. In a follow-up statement, the company said that they had “taken another look at this situation, and we are offering Maurice his job back.”
However, as of this writing, Rucker hasn’t publicly announced whether or not he’s going to take Home Depot up on their offer and accept his job back.