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Safeway clerk who defended woman attacked by boyfriend in store reinstated

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POSTED May 23, 2012 10:44 p.m.

DEL REY OAKS (AP) — When Safeway meat clerk Ryan Young jumped from behind his counter to help a pregnant woman being kicked by her boyfriend, he didn't know that he'd be suddenly jobless and a national hero at the same time.

On April 21, while Young worked a shift at the Del Rey Oaks, Calif., Safeway, he saw the woman and her boyfriend arguing. When the man got physical with the woman, Young came to her defense, according to the statement he gave police.

After the brouhaha ended, Young's employer saw the incident on surveillance video and suspended Young without pay. Safeway cited its zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence.

Then a sea of support rose for Young, starting with his union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5. They immediately challenged Young's suspension, but the company refused to budge for weeks — until Wednesday, when he was reinstated.

Meanwhile, word spread rapidly of Young's heroic actions after he appeared on national television. In response to his suspension, people began boycotting and picketing outside the northern California store in support of the clerk.

The Del Ray Oaks' police chief even jumped into the mix, commending Young's actions publicly.

Then Young's cause went viral. More than 180,000 people signed an online petition expressing outrage at Safeway's actions on Change.org, a website that allows people to engage in social advocacy.

"Knowing that I had all these people standing behind me and that I wasn't alone really helped me through this difficult time," he said in a statement through the website. "I'll be returning to work soon, and I'm ready to move forward."

Safeway reinstated Young with back pay. The decision came a day after union representatives and the company spoke.

"As we have said from the outset, Mr. Young's decision to intervene on behalf of one of our customers was commendable," Safeway said in a statement Wednesday.

"Whatever the circumstances, a physical confrontation between an employee and a customer is something we must take very seriously and examine very carefully. We appreciate the customers who took time to share their opinions about this incident, and we appreciate their patience as we completed the process."

The man charged in the woman's assault, Quyen Van Tran, was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to attend a 52-week domestic violence class after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery on Friday, according to the Monterey Herald.

 

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