Frank Swanson as he is called, was a cashier at a Walmart branch in West Plains, Missouri.
He would have been celebrating his 20th anniversary on the job in few days.
A representative for Walmart said his contract was terminated because he violated a pricing policy but protesting supporters say he was discharged because he like to hug customers.
The representative continued: “Letting an associate go is never easy.
“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.”
More than 1,500 people have committed to attending the rally on a Facebook page called “Hugs for Frank” and another 3,100 said they are interested in attending.
“Walmart has decided to fire Frank, the sweetest employee you’d ever meet, for hugging a costumer,” the page reads. “So we’re going to gather at Walmart on Saturday April 9th with signs or t-shirts offering free hugs. Let’s do this for Frank.”
Making Change at Walmart is a worker’s rights group heading the protest. In it’s statement on the matter, Jess Levin Communications Director MCAW said: “It appears Walmart fired workers for being decent and kind. So, if you believe in hugs or being nice to customers, don’t apply for a job at Walmart.”
Another report says, “Swanson broke store policy on at least one occasion by discounting a jug of tea by 50 cents, after a customer told him a competitor was selling the tea for 50 cents cheaper.
He took the customer at her word, but under store policy, he should have asked her to produce a printed circular proving the competitor’s price.
Swanson’s sister, Babbi Marsh, confirmed that Swanson was terminated for excessive price matching.
“He never let anyone walk out without paying for their merchandise. What he was told was that he was being let go for excessive price matching,” she told the West Plains Daily Quill.
Swanson suffered severe injuries including brain damage following an accident when he was young that left him in a coma for six weeks and temporarily paralyzed, his family told KSPR TV.
Walmart customer Jenn Harper called Swanson a “sign of hope.”
“I feel like one of our own has been hurt,” she told KSPR. “He’s a sign of hope, he made your day better. If you were having a bad day at Walmart, he would light up your whole trip.”