Fired for Foiling a Bank Robbery

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Jim Nicholson was working at a Key Bank branch when a man entered the bank and demanded money. Rather than comply with the robber’s demands, Nicholson tossed his bag to the floor, lunged at the suspect and demanded to see a weapon. The man ran, and Nicholson chased him for several blocks before knocking him down with help from a passerby. Nicholson then held the suspect, Aaron J. Sloan, 29, until police arrived.

Two days later he was fired for violating company policy.

Is this the wrong result?

“Our policies and procedures are in the best interests of public safety and are consistent with industry standards. Money, which is insured, can be replaced. Lives cannot.” – Key Bank spokeswoman Anne Foster

“It really doesn’t matter if you’re a bank teller or a citizen walking down the street. Generally speaking, it’s best to be a good witness. And quite honestly, this is also true for people who are off-duty police officers too.” – Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb

The policy clearly makes sense. There is no need for a bank employee to confront and chase a bank robber. Discipline was clearly the response.

The firing does send message to the rest of the KeyBank employees. Don’t do something stupid like confronting a bank robber. Focus on good identification so the police can find the robber. Let the police do their job.

What would have happened if the robber injured or killed Nicholson during the struggle? What is Nicholson injured or killed the robber?

Would a warning or suspension have been a better disciplinary action? Since the bank would presumably covered by insurance, there would have been no loss to the bank. So Nicholson endangered himself for no benefit to the bank. Any action that would encourage others would be reckless and endanger lives.

I think KeyBank did the right thing. But perhaps someone could help him find a new job.

What do you think?

Thanks to some Twitter followers for their thoughts:

  • @ComplianceWeek: I’d dock pay and make him employee of the month. Fired for bravery seems wrong.
  • @JennSteele: Something about the outright firing just sits wrong with me. Maybe it’s my American bent towards vigilantism
  • @Jeffrey_Brandt: Give him a reward before firing him
  • @BillWinterberg: Non-compliant bank teller could have turned out much worse. Bank policies exist for very good reasons.
  • @EthicsArbitrage: That’d be a real problem if carried out consistently. We’d run out of employees. Non-compliance=fired.
  • @DrewCollier: admire his bravery, admonish his disregard to policy. it’s a poor example to others and could get someone killed next time.

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2 Responses to Fired for Foiling a Bank Robbery

  1. Chance Gardner August 6, 2009 at 12:55 am #

    Jim has a total disregard for the chain of command, bank policy and the life of others. I hope he finds another job, but not in any area where life and limbs of others might be compromised by his foolish actions. This is a case about banking and insurance carrier policy and his Opinions/Beliefs and Feelings on that policy. He should own and operate his own business

    • Doug Cornelius August 6, 2009 at 9:49 am #

      Chance –

      So far you have come down the most solid on the side of the bank. I agree with you and the bank’s decision.

      The bank should have done a better job with the media relations.