High's clerks told they were fired after robbery for having too much money in cash registers

January 16, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Two Eldersburg convenience store clerks lost more than cash to a knife-wielding robber Monday night.

Kristy Johnson, 18, and Michael Huff, 21, learned Tuesday that they had been fired for leaving too much money in the cash registers.

State police said a man with a knife entered a High's store in the 1900 block of Liberty Road about 10: 25 p.m. and demanded money.

Huff said yesterday that he was in the rear stocking sodas in a refrigerated room and was unaware of the robbery until a tearful Johnson came to tell him she had been robbed.

Johnson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A woman who answered the phone at Johnson's home and identified herself as the teen-ager's mother -- but would not give her name -- said her daughter was upset over the robbery and being fired.

"Kristy had been offered a management position before this happened," the mother said. "There's something wrong with a store that fires their employees for being robbed."

Patricia Kelly, district manager for the Eldersburg High's store, was not available for comment yesterday.

Huff said he was told by a company official that the amount of the loss was $190. He said he questioned that amount, and Johnson's mother said her daughter also doubted the figure.

Huff said he recalled only one lottery customer purchasing $26 in tickets during his eight-hour shift. He said he remembered that two $20 bills, four $5 bills and some ones were in the cash register about 10 minutes before he went to work at the rear of the store.

Huff said the store manager was ordered to fire him and Johnson.

Huff said he called corporate offices in Linthicum Heights and was given the reason for the firing. He provided a list of 24 rules that he said he was given when he began working at High's in August.

Rule 12 reads: "A drop or remittance of money should never exceed $60. The amount of cash in the register should always be kept at a minimum. Excessive cash in the register is cause for termination."

Huff said that nowhere in the rules is it stated how much money in the registers is considered excessive.

He said he called a lawyer who told him he had no recourse. Because he had no contract with the company, he could be fired at any time, he was told.

"That's not right," Huff said. "I have a 10-month old son, and I had to look at my fiancee, and I had to say I lost my job."

Johnson's mother said Huff apologized to her for being in the back of the store and not up front where he might have been able to prevent the robbery.

"I told him I was glad he wasn't there," she said. "He could have surprised the robber, and he and Kristy could have been killed.

"No life is worth $190."

Pub Date: 1/16/98

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