By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald
Donna Hansbrough, 68, the Lowe’s employee who was first terminated for violating company policy regarding alleged shoplifters, has been offered her job back.
On July 24, Lowe’s issued the following statement: “After senior management became aware of the incident and spoke to Donna Hansbrough today, we are reinstating her job and we are pleased that she has accepted the offer to return to Lowe’s. First and foremost, there’s nothing more important than the safety of our customers and associates. Products can be replaced; people cannot. We continue to work closely with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who are responsible for this theft and violent attack.” – Larry Costello, senior manager, corporate communications.
Rincon Police are still looking for one of the three subjects who attempted to take more than $2,000 worth of merchandise from the Lowes store on Hwy. 21 in Rincon on June 25.
Hansbrough was terminated by Lowes for violating store policy that prevents employees from stopping persons attempting shoplifting.
“They say that if you see somebody stealing something out the door, not to pursue, not to go out. I lost it,” Hansbrough said. “I grabbed the cart. I don't actually remember going out but I did. And I grabbed the cart that had the stolen items in (it).”
One of the subjects punched Hansbrough in the face, causing one of her eyes to swell and blacken. Now, nearly a month later, her black eye is almost healed she said.
Hansbrough admits her mistake was just being overwhelmed by instinct. The 13-year employee didn’t expect to get terminated.
“I just got tired of seeing things get out the door. I just … I lost it,” Hansbrough recalls. “I basically lost all the training. Everything they tell you to do, I just … I just lost it.
“I didn’t expect to get terminated,” she added. “Maybe a reprimand or a suspension.”
As for her future, she said, “I’m going to look for a new job. I can’t sit at home. I’m not that type of person.”
Hansbrough said she started at Lowes as a cashier, but eventually became a “live-nursery specialist” when they found out she knew a lot about plants.
“My father worked at a nursery and I just kind of tagged along when I was little,” Hansbrough explained. She held that position for a few years until it was eliminated, “And I was just a customer service associate with live plants.”
She added that Lowes let her keep her hours and her pay rate. “Everything was the same. I just didn’t have the title.”
If the case goes to a trial, she said, “If they do need me, I will be there.”