.@chris_churchill: Five days after being subjected to a customer's racist rant, Maurice Rucker was fired by Albany's @HomeDepot for failing to follow protocol: https://t.co/HAPzXTPwu4 pic.twitter.com/ORXs71ZwKJ— Times Union (@timesunion) July 18, 2018
Last Thursday, Maurice Rucker — a 60-year-old black man who has worked for several years at The Home Depot — was berated and verbally attacked by a racist customer in an Albany, New York, location. Strangely, the interaction ended up costing Rucker his job.
You read that right: A man engaged Rucker, and yet he was fired.
How did this happen? The story goes like this: The man came into the store with his dog, which he didn’t have on a leash. Rucker politely told the man he had to leash his animal.
The man didn’t take that well.
“He turned around and said, 'F*** you. You're an a****** you're a piece of s***,'” Rucker recalled the man saying.
He didn’t stop there.
"If Trump wasn’t president, you wouldn’t even have a job," Rucker recounted the man saying.
The man also allegedly declared that Rucker was “from the ghetto.”
The Home Depot worker tried to keep his cool, but finally he did say something back.
“You're lucky I'm at work because if I wasn't, this wouldn't be happening, or you wouldn't be talking to me like this,” Rucker recalled saying.
The man left the store, then came back when he realized he forgot his dog. During his return, he again made verbal attacks against Rucker, before leaving again.
On Tuesday, when Rucker came into work, he had a meeting with the store’s manager. He was being fired. The store justified his termination because Rucker didn’t follow proper protocol for dealing with an unruly customer.
“The problem here is that he had several opportunities to disengage and contact management to deal with the customer,” said Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for The Home Depot. “We're appalled by this customer's behavior, 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.”
After the story gained attention, however, the company changed its mind and offered Rucker his job back on Friday.
“We’ve taken another look at this and we are offering Maurice his job back,” Senior Manager of Corporate Communications Matthew Harrigan wrote in an email to Raw Story.
It’s unclear if Rucker has decided to take his job back or not. But this decision should not have to be made by him in the first place — The Home Depot should have never fired him.
Maybe he did violate customer relations protocol, but after the onslaught of racist and harassing behavior he endured from this individual, Rucker should have been given some tremendous leeway. At most, he could have been told by management how to handle the situation in the future, but no discipline should have been administered.
People of color receive far more scrutiny for their actions, including for innocuous behavior, than do white people. This is just the latest example of how unfairly minorities are being treated in our society today. It’s 2018 — this simply shouldn't be happening.