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Walmart fires beloved, mentally handicapped employee for giving hugs and deals

It’s always difficult to fire an employee, especially one that’s popular, dependable, and out-going. And yet, a West Plains, Missouri Walmart did just that when it fired Frank Swanson, an employee with almost 20 years of service.

And they won’t back down

It’s always difficult to fire an employee, especially one that’s popular, dependable, and out-going. And yet, a West Plains, Missouri Walmart did just that when it fired Frank Swanson, an employee with almost 20 years of service. Although Walmart is being criticized for their choice, it does not appear as if it will back down. This Saturday, April 9, over a thousand people have pledged to be at a protest held in his honor. So what happened?


Who is Frank Swanson?

Swanson is a 52-year old man who was three weeks away from his 20th anniversary with Walmart. When he was in 8th grade, he fractured his skull after falling out of the back of his grandfather’s pickup. He was in a coma for six weeks, and when he finally healed from the accident, he was left with partial paralysis and brain damage. According to his brother, Frank just wanted to make people happy. He gave Walmart customers hugs and deals.

Swanson admits that he didn’t follow store policy and make customers show an ad to get a lower price match. He would lower the price at the customer’s word. He also gave hugs. Store managers had recently cautioned him to ask customers before hugging. Swanson said that once he was told to do so, he did. It’s reported that he was fired after lowering the price on an item for a customer by 50 cents.

Walmart’s response

The company released a statement, saying, in part, that “part of being a cashier is making sure customers are paying for their merchandise before they leave the store; in many instances, this was not happening.” Walmart has the added burden of maintaining privacy, which will make it difficult for them to defend their actions. Although Frank does ask if the customer wants hugs, giving hugs in the workplace is a liability issue for any business, especially one that has children and vulnerable adults.

Business, not personal

Much of the support has been for Swanson, not only on the Hugs for Frank Facebook page, but on the official Walmart page, and the Walmart West Plains page. Some have accused Walmart of firing Frank to avoid paying for his benefits. We may never know the full story, but it is important to remember that businesses have to make decisions based on the best interests of the business and their customers, not just one individual. Swanson is positive that he will find another position soon.

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Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.



  1. Pingback: Why did Walmart just committing to a massive hiring spree? - The American Genius

  2. Paul Cofer

    July 17, 2021 at 11:58 pm

    Oh! Mighty WAL-Mart! You fired Mr.Swanson for treating people like HumanBeings and giving the customer a good hug and a deal that keeps customers coming back. Wonder how Mr. Sam Walton would handle this!!! But the new generation of Machiavellian CEOs, managers and district managers do not or refuse to see that it’s still about the human element. It is bad enough that associates are discarded after being loyal to the ongoing of the company. But it is horrible to hire a special needs individual to exploit and exhibit company inclusivity and then let them go because of some technicality. As a former Pharmacy associate, I have experienced how that with advancing age they write you up for some frivolous technicality that they allow their “ spies” and “ pets” to get away with.
    Either corporate condones such mistreatment if associates or they stonewall or distance themselves so they can say that they’re not aware of such unfair treatment of associates in the lower echelon of associates. At any rate, this action by WAL-Mart is very unfair to the feelings of this individual and the whole corporate organization from the CEO to the store mini-manager needs lessons on human decency!

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