A BANK worker has said she was fired for giving $20 of her own money to a customer in need on Christmas Eve.
Emily James, from Portland, Oregon, was working as a senior banker at a US Bank call center when customer Marc Eugenio phoned and said that a delay in cashing his paycheck was set to leave him broke over the holidays.
''I felt terrible about the whole situation," James told DailyMail.com.
"There were no ways to have the funds from his paycheck released."
During a conversation that lasted more an hour, Eugenio mentioned that his car was out of gas, saying: "I wish I had just $20 bucks to get home."
Realising he was only a few miles from the call center, James spoke to her supervisor and decided to travel to meet Eugenio and give him $20 of her own money.
"I decided to help him because I've been in the same situation," she said.
"I've been stranded and left feeling helpless. Christmas is the one day of the year to be kind to one another."
But a week later, on New Year's Eve, James was asked to go to see the regional service manager and told she was going to lose her job.
"She said, 'We're sorry, we cannot keep your employment because of unauthorized interaction with a customer'," James explained.
James asked the manager: "You're going to fire me for doing something good?"
"I never even got to stand up for myself or contact HR," she said.
The supervisor who allowed James to get an meet Eugenio is also reported to have lost his job.
'SHE WAS THE ONLY ONE HELPING ME'
Eugenio has slammed the bank's decision to fire James as "ridiculous".
"I was a customer of U.S. Bank, I needed help, and she went above and beyond," he said.
"I felt so bad. She was the only one helping me."
"It was like, 'Wow, she really cares'.
"Most supervisors, maybe they would have tried, but nobody would have ever come out because I was stranded.
"She had a big heart. She believed what I was saying."
James said the bank told her their concern was for her safety.
"He could have kidnapped me or shot me," she said.
"But I wouldn't have left or even tried to ask if that was OK if I thought that this person would hurt me."
James has earned more than a dozen certificates and awards during her two years working at US Bank.
The inscription on one, the Silver Shield Award, says: "We do the right thing.
"It's what we believe. It's how we act. And it's a core value you've recently brought to life through your work."
James initially hoped she'd be taken back at the bank, but now says: "I don't think I would want to continue to work for someone who would do that."
She added: "Had I known then that I was going to be let go, I would have just removed the hold on the check, because that absolutely would have gotten me fired."
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