An Oregon banker, who gave out $20 of her own pocket to a struggling customer on Christmas Eve has been fired from a job for the act of kindness.
Emily James worked as a senior banker at a U.S. Bank call center in Portland when she received a call on Dec. 23 from customer Marc Eugenio whose $1,000 paycheck from a new job had been placed on hold, The Oregonian reported.
The glitch left Eugenio unable to buy his children Christmas presents as well as he couldn’t afford living expenses either, according to KOIN.
So, James tried to assist Eugenio. She advised him to go to his Clackamas local branch the next day to ask the branch manager to verify the funds from the issuing bank.
However, the following day, on Christmas Eve, Eugenio visited his local branch but the manager was out on vacation and the other bank employees weren’t very helpful.
“(The woman at the bank) said, ‘My hands are tied, I can’t do anything,’” Eugenio told The Oregonian.
Frustrated, Eugenio left the bank and called James back at the 800 number on Christmas Eve. He told her he was at a gas station about 14 miles away from the call center where James worked.
“I said, ‘I wish I had just $20 bucks to get home,’” Eugenio recalled. “And she said ‘Wait, hold on.’”
So, James decided to act. She asked her supervisor for permission to drive to the gas station and give Eugenio some money to get home. She said her supervisor agreed.
“I handed him $20 in cash, said ‘Merry Christmas’ and went right back to work,” she said.
But on New Year’s Eve, she was informed by a service manager that she was fired because of her “unauthorized interaction with a customer.”
Her supervisor who allowed James to leave work to assist Eugenio was also reportedly fired.
Eugenio said his paycheck was cleared several days after Christmas and called James’s firing “ridiculous.”
“I was a customer of U.S. Bank, I needed help, and she went above and beyond,” Eugenio said. “I felt so bad. She was the only one helping me.”
At this point, James said she’s not sure she even wants her job back.
“I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t help someone if you had the ability to,” James said. “It’s Christmas Eve, it’s already a rough time for people, and you’re going to leave someone stranded?”