Store clerk, 72, who claims she was fired after putting her hands on armed thief sues company
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A store clerk who claims she was sacked after defending herself from a thief has taken the company to court.
Mary Ann Moreno, 72, says she was let go from her job at Circle K in Westminster, Colorado after the incident in 2020.
Moreno was on shift on 4 October when the man walked into the store armed with two large hunting knives at around 7 pm.
According to the lawsuit, he had 'demanded' a free pack of cigarettes, which she declined to give to him.
He then approached the tobacco counter and grabbed a pack, and Moreno 'instinctively' puts her hands up to 'protect herself and prevent the man from coming closer toward her and the merchandise', the lawsuit says.
Moreno initially grabs his arm but then relents, security footage shows, as she says: "Don't come back here."
Reflecting on the incident, Moreno told KDVR: "I, like, freaked out, you know? And I just went like that.
"Well, supposedly, I guess I grabbed his arm. I don’t remember that, but I push him, and that’s when he ran out."
Whilst he paced outside the store, Moreno said she called the police and her manager.
A records clerk at Westminster Police Department confirmed that the man had been accused of having a knife and had been arrested, as per The Charlotte Observer.
It continues to say that Moreno was 'incredibly distraught' when speaking to officers, and later, a supervisor, who was allegedly 'upset' with her, said that she would need to be 'investigated' for pushing the man away.
Two days, the lawsuit claims, is when she was fired.
It goes on to say that Moreno is seeking damages for 'emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life'.
As per The Charlotte Observer, Moreno's attorney, Iris Halperin, said: “The thing that has bothers her most is losing her job. She was extremely loyal and loved her customers.”
She continued: "I think there has to be more nuance in these policies across the industry that penalize employees for engaging with their would-be assailants.
“Employees have the right to self-defense. They have victim’s rights. That doesn’t change when they’re in the workplace.”
Halprin also said that she hoped this lawsuit would encourage companies to change their policies around how staff members should handle dangerous situations.
Circle K declined KDVR's request for comment on pending litigation.
UNILAD have reached out to Circle K and Westminster Police Department for comment.