Autistic shop worker fired after he was attacked three times in four months by thieves

A shop worker with autism was dismissed from his job following a series of three assaults by thieves outside his workplace within a span of four months.
Austin Sherrell, a resident of California who has mild autism, was employed at Vons grocery store. He reportedly endured harassment, physical assault, and mistreatment from a group of thieves.

The company terminated his employment without justification, referring to an ongoing investigation as the rationale. This decision was made despite his father's appeal for workers' compensation in light of the distressing incidents.

Throughout the course of his employment, Sherrell was targeted in three separate attacks, and eventually developed the ability to defend himself when faced with a similar situation for the third time.
In the first assault, the 23-year-old was unexpectedly attacked while taking out the trash. Two thieves appeared out of nowhere, delivering a direct punch to his face and spraying him with pepper spray.

This initial incident occurred on January 19. However, after a mere two months, he was targeted once again in the same vicinity.

During an interview with KGET News, relayed by The Mirror, Sherrell recounted the details of the first assault: "I was bleeding, and I managed to escape and run back inside. My main challenge, due to my mild autism, is difficulty processing things."

Fortunately, during the second attack, he had a bundle of trash bags concealed in his apron pocket, enabling him to shield himself when the assailant thrust a knife into the bundle rather than directly at him.

Reflecting on the second incident, which deeply unsettled him, Sherrell expressed, "Unbelievable. The first incident didn't affect me too profoundly, but the second incident, when you're facing death up close, I experienced the most intense fear and shook to my core like never before in my entire life."

On April 1, Sherrell found himself embroiled in yet another altercation. Two customers alerted him to ongoing harassment from an individual who seemed to be under the influence of substances.
Taking prompt action, Sherrell promptly sought security assistance to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected customers.

The man confronted Sherrell by initiating a chest bump and proceeded to deliver three punches. Sherrell's father, Adam, reported the incident to the company.

Adam expressed dissatisfaction with the security's response, claiming that despite Sherrell alerting them and stating, "He's cussing me out, he's threatening my life," they failed to take protective measures.

Sherrell recounted his interaction with security, stating, "I step back, but he comes back in my face. I step back again," after pushing the man away for the third time.

Subsequently, Sherrell's father requested worker's compensation from the company on behalf of his son, who was experiencing nightmares and panic attacks following the near-stabbing incident.

Worker's compensation serves as a vital support system for employees who suffer work-related injuries, providing them with the necessary time off and reimbursement for medical expenses.

Furthermore, it acts as a safeguard, ensuring that employees are not subjected to adverse consequences such as termination when they legitimately require a leave of absence.
However, upon Sherrell's return to work, he faced unforeseen difficulties. His work hours were reduced, and he was suspended from his job on April 10 due to an ongoing investigation. Unfortunately, this led to his termination on April 19.

Since his termination, Sherrell has been unable to secure another job, according to Adam's claim.

However, The United Food and Commercial Workers 8-Golden State Union has appealed the termination on Sherrell's behalf. President Jacques Loveall stated, "Based on our initial findings, it appears that Mr. Sherrell's termination was unjustified."

Despite choosing not to return to Vons, Sherrell expressed his affection for the customers and expressed how much he would miss their presence.

He graciously acknowledged the frequent compliments he received from them, often receiving positive feedback about his service.

In a show of support for Sherrell, his father initiated a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $5,000. As of Friday morning (May 12), the campaign has amassed nearly $3,000 in donations.

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