This story is a crazy one, so you’ll have to follow closely. It’s almost unbelievable to think that a pregnant employee, let alone a pregnant manager, would be fired from a fast food restaurant after being the victim of an armed robbery, but that’s just what happened at a Popeyes in Channelview, Texas.
Marissa Holcomb is pregnant with her fourth child. On March 31, she was robbed at gunpoint at Popeyes, all captured on an internal surveillance video. The armed robber still has not been caught almost a month later.
The surveillance video shows a man in a ski mask running into Popeyes waving a gun. The man then zeroed in on Holcomb — she says that he grabbed the back of her shirt and pushed her to the front of the store. The gunman told Holcomb to give him all the money in the safe, but as a manager, she was only able to open the cash registers. Holcomb said that because it was a busy Tuesday night when 2-piece chicken meals were on sale for $1.19, the robber was able to make off with close to $400.
Instead of sympathizing with and supporting a pregnant employee who had clearly been traumatized, Popeyes laid the responsibility square on Holcomb’s shoulders. According to Holcomb, one of her Popeyes managers gave her two options following the robbery: Pay back the $400 or lose her job.
Holcomb was fired less than 36 hours later. Owner of Z & H Foods Inc., the company that owns the Popeyes franchise, Amin Dhanani claims that Holcomb’s termination was because she broke company policy several times by leaving too much money in the register. Holcomb says that because of the busy volume of the restaurant that night, because of the nightly special, she didn’t have time to take the cash back to the safe. The stolen $400 accumulated in the register in about an hour.
Dhanani met with Holcomb on Wednesday, after the story broke on Tuesday. Holcomb told KHOU, “He just apologized and pretty much offered me if I wanted to go back to his business and work there again.”
Thanks to the power of negative publicity, and hopefully because the higher-ups at Popeyes saw the error of their ways, Holcomb has been offered her job back with $2,000 in back pay. At the moment, Holcomb remains undecided. She says that though she needs a way to support her kids and employment options are slim for a pregnant woman, she doesn’t know if she wants to work for a company that treats employees this way.
A situation like this can encourage larger corporations to keep their employee policies flexible. Popeyes may have a point that Holcomb technically violated policy by leaving too much cash in the register, but with good reason. Understanding how hard this woman was working to please customers, not to mention how distressing it must have been to be held up at gunpoint, could have gone a long way here. $400 isn’t worth a pregnant woman losing her job.