Disabled man fired from job for mistakenly taking wrong jacket from break room

Managers claim Ian Rey stole jacket

SAN DIEGO - A man was fired from his job for what he is calling an honest mistake.

Ian Rey, 38, told 10News he took a black jacket he thought was his from a break room at a local supermarket.

Rey, who was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, suffers from learning disabilities but has held a steady job at the supermarket for 14 years.

"[The jacket] was hanging on a chair," Rey said. "I feel upset. I gave it back right away."
Rey's sister, Sunny Rey, believed her older brother was fired for being disabled.

"When he realized [the jacket] wasn't his, he gave it back," she said. "[Ian's managers] asked him to write an 'I'm sorry' letter, so Ian wrote down how sorry he was for taking this person's jacket unknowingly, and they used that to send to corporate and use it as his admission of guilt."

Sunny Rey claimed her brothers' bosses used scare tactics, explaining they had surveillance video of the incident but refused to show it to Ian Rey or his family.

Rey was suspended for three days and then let go on Monday, for what market managers claimed was stealing.

"I just don't think that would've happened to anyone else who could advocate for themselves," added Sunny Rey.

10News tried talking to Rey's managers but were referred to the supermarket's corporate offices in Arizona.

Public relations manager Kim Rockley released the following statement to 10News: "Sprouts (supermarket) is proud of its commitment to its policy of equal opportunity, but it does not comment on individual employee matters."

Rey moved out of his adopted parents' home, and has been supporting himself since he was 18-years-old. He has already applied for a job at a nearby restaurant and supermarket so he can stay independent.

When asked what he missed most about his job, Rey replied with a smile on his face, "Oh … customers."

The feeling is mutual.

"Ian's always greeting people, always so nice, grabbing their baskets … he's always so helpful," said George Johnston, a regular Sprouts customer. "What happened [to him] … I'm shocked. I'm shocked."
 

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