Safeway has reinstated a Del Ray Oaks, Calif. meat clerk who was suspended without pay for intervening in the beating of a pregnant customer.

Public pressure played a role in getting Ryan Young’s job back after he left his work station April 21 to intervene when he saw a pregnant woman in a food aisle being kicked in what had begun as a verbal domestic dispute, according to the Associated Press.

Young struck the man who was kicking the woman, triggering store officials, citing Safeway’s zero tolerance policy for workplace violence, to suspend him for about a month.

But Young’s actions attracted widespread support that began with picketing of the store in protest of the suspension, grew into national newspaper and broadcast news stories and, even drew praise from Del Ray Oaks Police Chief Ron Langford.

“We don’t condone people getting involved, but we take it on a case-by-case basis,” said Langford, in a letter sent to Safeway. “Somebody had to do something,” he said of the incident. Online petitions garnered more than 183,000 signatures backing Young’s actions.

Quyen Van Tran, the man Young says he saw assaulting the woman, was arrested and entered a no contest plea to charges of misdemeanor battery before receiving three years probation for the domestic dispute.

“It got physical. He started to rough her up and was pushing her around,” said Young in an interview with CNN. “People started to gather around-staff also-but nobody really intervened in the situation. I thought it was time to step in and try to diffuse the situation.”

Young told CNN he felt a need to get involved because he had he, too, has a child on the way. However, Safeway had a different take on how the incident should have played out.

After reviewing the incident, Safeway reversed the suspension ruling and applauded Young’s actions while standing by its anti-violence policy. “Whatever the circumstances, a physical confrontation between an employee and a customer is something we must take very seriously and examine very carefully,” said Teena Massingill, representative of Safeway’s corporate office.

“Ryan has been reinstated with back pay and the union is satisfied with the result,” said President of the United Food and Commercial Workers union’s Local 5 branch, Ron Lind. Young is to resume work for Safeway at a store closer to his home.


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer