Omaha family of fired Hy-Vee employee with intellectual disability speaks

Hy-Vee is under fire after firing a special needs employee.
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 4:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Anthony Richart worked at the Hy-Vee near 96th and Q streets for the past five years.

Two weeks ago, Anthony’s mother, Sue Bayliss, was ready to drive him to the store for his normal shift, but to her surprise, he wasn’t dressed for work when he walked down the stairs.

“I said, ‘What happened?’” Sue said. “‘He said, ‘They say no come back.’”

His family said a manager accused him of stealing a can of coffee and turned him into HR.

“It’s sad for him,” Sue said. “It was his life. Everybody knows he loved it. And what they’ve done is rotten honestly.”

Anthony said it came from an opened pack of canned coffee; unsellable items near the breakroom signal they’re free for the taking among employees, he and his family told 6 News.

“They told me to sign here,” said Anthony as he pointed to a Hy-Vee termination report.

When asked if he could say what it means that he signed, he examined the paper and shook his head no.

In what the family believes was an unjust termination, they’ve complained up the corporate ladder, reaching the Hy-Vee president.

They said they were told initially this isn’t Anthony’s first instance of stealing, so they asked for proof.

“They didn’t have any documentation of anything in the past,” said Anthony’s sister, Kristi Cleveland. “They don’t have any write-ups. They don’t have anything on him.”

Anthony finished his shift the day he was fired but never got closure with his co-workers, people whom he also calls friends.

“I didn’t get to say goodbye,” Anthony said.

6 News reached out to Hy-Vee, who responded with the following statement:

“We have been talking with Anthony’s family to remedy this situation, and we have offered him his position back. At Hy-Vee, we continue to be committed to hiring, retaining, and supporting people with disabilities, and we have a longstanding history which demonstrates that. As with any employer, we cannot discuss specific personnel details; however, we are actively working on a resolution.”

Anthony said he doesn’t want to go back.

His family too, worried that if he did, he’d face retaliation. Anthony’s mother said she hopes moving forward this doesn’t happen to others and that those with disabilities are treated with fairness in the workplace.

For now, he and his mother are taking a fishing trip to decompress from this situation.