Why Michigan Kroger worker who confronted shoplifter says she was fired after 31 years

Beverly Bennett suing Kroger after losing job for confronting shoplifter

Beverly Bennett says she was fired from the Kroger in Lincoln Park for trying to stop a shoplifter. (WDIV)

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. – A Michigan Kroger worker who confronted a shoplifter trying to steal a cart full of liquor spoke about why she lost her job after more than three decades with the company.

Meet Beverly Bennett

Beverly Bennett, 61, worked at the Kroger in Lincoln Park and spent 31 years with the company.

She said she’s gotten to know many loyal customers at her store throughout the years, and those customers are being told she retired. Bennett said that’s not true -- she was fired.

“No, I didn’t retire,” Bennett said. “I didn’t have a retirement party. I didn’t say bye to anybody -- none of that, because I was terminated because I thought I was doing the right thing.”

Bennett said coworkers and customers meant everything to her. She said her life has been ruined ever since she lost the job.

“This is devastating,” Bennett said. “I’ve always had my own money and worked my whole life, and then to have nothing.”

What happened

Bennett said she was working last fall when a man who hadn’t paid tried to exit the store with a grocery cart full of hundreds of dollars’ worth of liquor.

She said all employees had received instruction on how to approach shoplifters because items were being stolen every day.

The Kroger store in Lincoln Park. (WDIV)

When the alarm went off at the exit, Bennett asked the man for a receipt, she said. She stood in front of his cart and swung a basket at the grocery cart, she claims.

“I swung it at the basket, and I told him, ‘Don’t touch it. You’re not getting this cart,’” Bennett said.

The man ran off, and Bennett’s coworkers celebrated her, according to attorney Greg Rohl.

“They congratulated her for stopping that level of theft,” Rohl said. “She was considered, I guess that day, to be a hero.”

Lawsuit

Bennett said she lost her job because of that incident. Specifically, she was fired for swinging the basket at the man’s grocery cart, Bennett says.

Now, her attorney has filed a lawsuit against Kroger on her behalf.

Bennett said she didn’t violate any company policies. She said her employee record over the past 31 years is spotless.

“I feel devastated, and I feel like I was treated wrong,” Bennett said.

Shawn Ley spoke with longtime Kroger employee Beverly Bennett about her firing. (WDIV)

She feels like Kroger cast her aside because of her age.

Bennett said she has lost sleep over the firing and her health has suffered because of stress.

Local 4 asked the Kroger Corporation to comment on the lawsuit and got the following response:

“I shared your request forward with the division team in Michigan. They will reach out if they have something to share, but typically we do not comment on ongoing litigation.”

Here’s Shawn Ley’s full report from Tuesday (May 3):

A Lincoln Park Kroger employee has been fired after 31 years for trying to stop a customer from shoplifting.

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.