The woman who says she was fired from a Kemtpville, Ont., Walmart for calling the police about a dog left in a hot car has now retained a lawyer, CBC News reports.
In statements issued Thursday, Walmart denied Carla Cheney was fired because she had confronted a customer who had left his dog in his car on a hot day, but would not say why she had been let go “out of respect for the associate and for privacy reasons,” the Ottawa Citizen reports.
But labour lawyer Robert Monti told the CBC it’s a clear case of wrongful dismissal.
"One of my colleagues was in a Shopper's Drug Mart recently where an animal was left in a car, and an announcement came over the PA system … saying that if you were the owner of [the] car ... get out to your car within the next minute or we're going to break the window," he said.
"So that was a completely different corporate response, and an appropriate one."
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Cheney told the press earlier this week she had not yet started her shift at the Kemtpville Walmart, some 60 km south of Ottawa, when she confronted a customer who had left his dog in his vehicle, with the windows rolled up.
Later, during work hours, she was called into the manager’s office and told she was to come to management, and not call the police, when an animal is left in a car. Cheney said she refused because of the manager’s “earlier inaction on the same issue,” CBC reports — another employee, Sean Dhaliwal, had apparently been let go a few weeks earlier over a similar incident.
The story of Cheney’s firing has become news worldwide, with animal lovers and rights activists voicing outrage at the retailer’s move, while some others defended the retailer, saying Cheney had gone about addressing the issue improperly.
Even some police forces got in on the debate.
“We feel this is the wrong message to send to employees and the public in general. It shows a lack of personal and community responsibility to do the right thing,” the Kingston, Ont. police department posted on its Facebook page.
The police force urged people to call the Humane Society or even 911 if they see an animal trapped in a hot car.
For its part, Walmart said Thursday it would start posting signs in stores across Canada, warning people of the dangers of leaving pets in cars, Global News reported.
A Facebook page protesting Walmart’s move, set up after Dhaliwal’s dismissal from the Walmart a few weeks ago, had nearly 12,000 members as of Friday afternoon. It had had half that many a day earlier.