Store manager

Store manager who helped feed the homeless sues his employer for dismissal

In exchange for the food, the recipients performed certain jobs for him, including clearing the aisle of needles, feces and tidying up the area, according to the lawsuit.

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A Vancouver grocery store manager says he was fired following allegations he stole $600 worth of merchandise from a store when, in fact, he had just helped feed homeless people.

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Justin Grant says that before his dismissal in October, he had been employed for almost four years as manager of the Your Independent Grocer franchise on Davie Street and enjoyed considerable success on the job.

In a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, he claims that, with the knowledge of his employer, he gave worthless goods such as expired but edible food to homeless people who lived in an alley behind the store.

In exchange for the food, the recipients performed certain jobs for him, including clearing the aisle of needles, feces and tidying up the area, according to the lawsuit.

Grant also says he donated dog food to the local SPCA and gave one of the homeless a cake on his birthday, which he considered charitable practices.

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But Grant claims he was called to a meeting where he was not told in advance what was to be discussed, accused of theft and fired.

“It was absolutely devastating to me,” Grant told Postmedia. “I had spent the last four years fixing that store, helping to improve the perception of the community, that sort of thing.”

Grant, whose wife was pregnant with their first child, said the company’s move had left him feeling “disgusted” as their core value is caring for their co-workers, the environment and from the community.

“It’s the first thing they say. And at the end of the day, that’s all I was trying to do was make sure the community was taken care of in a way that represented the company very well.

“With this firing and my name now associated with theft, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge for me when I go to this job interview and they Google my name.”

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Several days after his dismissal, Grant says he was contacted by Vancouver police about the theft allegations. He says he told the officer everything that had happened and all the cases of distributing food to the homeless.

“And he basically said, ‘Justin, you were doing this out of the goodness of your heart. I would find it very hard to believe that the Crown would find a reason to pursue this.

Justin Grant
Justin Grant Photo by Mike Bell /PNG

Grant said the officer called him later to tell him the police were not recommending charges. Vancouver police confirmed Thursday that the investigation ended with no charges recommended.

Grant seeks damages equivalent to six months notice as well as aggravated, punitive and special damages.

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Grant’s attorney, Jenson Leung, said the lawsuit has been served on the defendants, but no response has yet been filed.

The lawsuit names the store and parent company, Loblaw Companies Ltd., as defendants. The store referred inquiries to Loblaw.

In an emailed statement, Loblaw said it was unable to comment on the allegations because the matter involved a franchise owner’s business.

“What we can say more generally is that we strive to support the communities in which we operate, including working with food banks and food relief charities locally and nationally to help reduce the amount of food going to landfills. and to provide those facing food insecurity with healthy alternatives,” the statement read.

“We understand that the franchise owner of Davie St. Your Independent Grocer is partnering with their local food bank and food recovery agency to support members of their community.”

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