Autistic Shop Worker Fired After Being Attacked 3 Times In 4 Months By Thieves

Austin Sherrell, who has mild autism, lost his job at a Vons supermarket in California after he was attacked three times in four months by thieves. He was reportedly punched, heckled, and abused by a group of attackers and eventually learned to defend himself, but he ended up being fired for doing so.

According to Vons, Sherrell was unlawfully terminated due to a “pending investigation.” While his father requested workers’ compensation after the latest attack, the company decided to ignore the request and fire the 23-year-old anyway.

According to KGET, Sherrell was first attacked in January, when he was punched and pepper sprayed in the face while taking the trash out during a shift. Two months later, he was attacked again in the same area. “I’m bleeding and I get away and I run back inside, My biggest problem, what I have is that I’m mildly autistic, I have a hard time processing things.,” he said after the first incident.

During the second attack, he managed to avoid being stabbed when the attacker stabbed a knife into a roll of trash bags instead of his body. This incident left him feeling extremely shaken. However, a third incident in April 2023 saw Sherrell punched three times in the face and chest bumped by a man who had been harassing other customers. Security reportedly did nothing to help him, so Sherrell fought back by pushing the man away repeatedly.

At that point, he began experiencing “nightmares and panic attacks,” leading his father to request worker’s compensation. Instead, Vons reduced Sherrell’s working hours and he was then suspended before eventually being terminated on April 19.

The United Food and Commercial Workers 8-Golden State Union has appealed Austin Sherrell’s termination on his behalf, with president Jacques Lovell saying that it was “unwarranted.”

A GoFundMe campaign has since been launched by Austin’s father, Adam Sherrell. It has raised $6,990 to date of its $10,000 goal.

Jennifer has been the managing editor of Bolde since its launch in 2014. Before that, she was the founding editor of HelloGiggles and also worked as an entertainment writer for Bustle and Digital Spy. Her work has been published in Bon Appetit, Decider, Vanity Fair, The New York TImes, and many more.
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