Bank teller foils robbery, then gets fired

Teller who chased and apprehended robber fired for violating bank’s strict policy on how to handle robberies
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 08/24/2009

A bank teller in the United States who took matters into his own hands to stop a robbery is now jobless because of it.

Jim Nicholson, 30, was a bank teller at a Key Bank branch in Seattle for two years. The bank had a policy instructing tellers how to handle robberies and they were trained to get robbers out of the bank as quickly as possible and avoid confrontations as money was federally insured and protecting people was a priority.

However, one day Nicholson was working when a man wearing a cap, sunglasses and a backpack came up to his kiosk and demanded money. Nicholson, who admitted he’s an “adrenaline-junkie,” reacted instinctively and, despite his familiarity with the bank’s policy, jumped at the robber and grabbed his backpack. The man fled the bank with Nicholson in hot pursuit. Nicholson chased the robber for several blocks, caught him and held him until police arrived on the scene.

Two days after the incident, Key Bank fired Nicholson for his actions, which violated the bank’s strict policy of not escalating a robbery situation that could potentially endanger bystanders.

“Key’s highest priority is to protect the safety of our employees and our clients,” a Key Bank spokesperson told CNN. “Our policies and procedures are in the best interest of public safety and they’re consistent with industry standards.

Nicholson felt his firing was a little extreme, but understands why it was done and didn’t plan to dispute it.

“I think they probably wanted to set an example,” Nicholson told CNN. “I don’t think they want other tellers to do the same thing.”

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