Pasco woman says she was fired for calling police after seeing a man hit his girlfriend
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- If you saw a man hitting a woman, would you get involved? One Pasco woman did, and she says she lost her job over it.
"She just looked so scared. I wasn't going to have it on my conscience if I read in the newspaper the next day that they found her body somewhere," said 24 year old Jessica Haines who used to work at the Lucky Bridge Casino in Pasco.
Thursday night, after being off the clock and out of her uniform, Haines said she had a drink at the bar when she noticed a man treating a woman very poorly. Haines said she then went outside and saw him strike her twice in the face and drive away.
"And she just looked out the window, and I've never seen anybody look so scared in my life, so I called the cops....and I would do it again and again, because its what I was supposed to do," she recalls.
Haines jotted down the license plate number and immediately called Kennewick Police. On Sunday, after she came into work, Haines says she was called into the manager's office and fired.
"He told me that I don't have a right to call the police. And I was like, not only do I have the right to call the police, but I have an obligation..responsibility to call the police. And he was like, well you're fired, they're letting you go," she said.
NBC Right Now contacted casino manager Pond Muony who signed Haines' termination papers. Muony said management didn't know about the fight until after the police were called and she failed to follow procedure. He said she should have notified management and security first. Muony also said there have been previous incidents with Haines not following procedures, like cutting customers off from drinking without checking with them first.
NBC Right Now asked employment law attorney Brian Davis of Leavy, Shultz, Davis & Fearing P.S. of Kennewick to look into what rights Haines has. Davis says the law typically favors the employer in Washington state.
"Because we live in an "At Will Employment State" An employer can fire an employee for whatever reason as long as its not an illegal reason like age discrimination, race discrimination," Davis said. However in this case, he says Jessica may have a case.
"In this case, the law would want to protect the policy of citizens protecting other citizens by coming to their aid or calling the police. And so if a person was terminated for one of these reasons, they may have a case for wrongful termination for violating public policy," said Davis.
NBC Right Now also contacted Kennewick Police, who say they never did find that couple or what happened to the woman. Haines says she is interested in filing a law suit, but cannot afford a lawyer. NBC Right Now put her in touch with Davis.