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Outrage Of The Week: "Safest for everybody?" Pizza Hut punishes employee for defending himself

Friday, April 4, 2008

“The incident wasn’t something quick and simple. ... It was a long ordeal…my life was, without a doubt, in danger.” 

On the night of March 27, 2008, Pizza Hut deliveryman James Spiers of Des Moines, Iowa was delivering pizzas--just as he had many times before over the past 10 years.  He walked into an apartment complex thinking he was making another routine delivery, but found himself in a battle for his life:  he had been set up by a “customer” who had lured him into the complex by pretending to order the pizza over the phone, but who had an armed accomplice waiting in ambush. 

Spiers soon found himself trapped in a hallway with a gun to his head, his assailant demanding money.  “Without a doubt,” he said, “my life was in extreme danger.” 

The thug (who, not surprisingly, has a long list of prior arrests) thought he had the upper hand.  Fortunately, Mr. Spiers has a valid concealed carry permit, and was carrying a pistol for personal protection at the time of the attack.  He struggled with his attacker and managed to draw his own firearm.  He shot the assailant, who fled the scene but was later arrested after he sought medical treatment. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story.  As a result of his actions, Mr. Spiers, a single father trying to make an honest living, was suspended from his job by his employer, Pizza Hut.  That’s right.  A man who, as a result of doing his job, was forced into a life-threatening situation, defended himself, and whose actions helped take a career criminal off the street, was deprived of his livelihood.  Pizza Hut suspended James Spiers for defending his life. 

Vonnie Walbert, vice president of human resources at Pizza Hut, said, “We have a policy against carrying weapons. We prohibit employees from carrying guns because we believe that that is the safest for everybody.” 

“Safest for everybody?”  This inane policy certainly makes things safer for criminals, like the one who attacked Spiers.  But it does nothing to aid the safety of Pizza Hut’s employees.  Every night, hardworking deliverymen and women must do their job in potentially dangerous areas.  In fact, their jobs are statistically among the most dangerous in the nation.  Yet Pizza Hut would deprive them of self-protection. 

Thankfully, people are taking notice.  Spiers has said that he has been “overwhelmed by support from people who cheered what happened,” including Iowa state senator Brad Zaun (R-32), who noted, “If I was in a situation to protect my family, protect myself, to continue being a father, I would’ve done the same thing.  What I want everybody to know…is that there [are] people out there supporting this man and his right to defend himself.  I’m going to be watching Pizza Hut.”

To voice your outrage over Pizza Hut’s disciplinary decision, please contact the Corporate Offices by phone at (800) 948-8488, or by e-mail at this webpage: http://www.pizzahut.com/contactus/ContactUsForm.aspx?l1=2024.

This corporate policy is outrageous.
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