Rally to help well-known disabled grocery worker - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Rally to help well-known disabled grocery worker get his job back

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POINT LOMA (CBS 8) - A crowd rallied in front of Sprouts Market in Point Loma on Friday night, in support of a disabled former employee who was fired for what he calls an honest mistake.

Ian Rey has fetal alcohol syndrome and says he believes his disability played a role in his firing on May 6.

Rey says he was let go for mistakenly taking home a jacket of another worker that was left sitting in a break room because he thought it was his.

In a statement on Facebook, Sprouts said it would never fire an employee without a thorough investigation. The grocery store chain said it is willing to reveal its findings with Rey's family.

But or Rey's family that's not enough. They rallied friends and supporters from the community armed with flyers that read 'Don't Shop at Sprouts," and staged a rally outside the Point Loma store where Rey was formerly employed.

Some chanted "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it now?"

Rey says that taking the jacket was just a misunderstanding and doesn't believe it should have been grounds for termination.

"I said I made a mistake. I took it back right away."

Sprout is a non-union grocery chain, but the incident has also gained the attention of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135.

Union spokesman German Ramirez said, "We feel that Ian was not heard, that he was brushed away. He doesn't have the capabilities to defend himself and we're going to represent him."

Rey's sister Sunny is preparing for legal action in a case of possible discrimination.

"He was asked to write an ‘I'm sorry' letter but what it really was an admission of guilt sent to corporate. Somebody without a disability wouldn't have been taking advantage of that way," she said.

Ian Rey said he simply wants back the job where he worked for the last 14 years.

News 8 made multiple attempts to speak directly with a representative for Sprouts but our calls went unanswered.

The Facebook page for Sprouts has been flooded with pleas to re-instate Rey.

On Friday, Sprouts issued the following statement in response to the incident:

Out of respect for the privacy of our team members and the requirements of California law, we will not divulge the circumstances surrounding a team member's separation from the company. We are a responsible employer and would not end a long-time relationship without a thorough investigation. Mr. Rey had a job advocate engaged throughout this process and we have reached out to the family and are willing, with Mr. Rey's consent, to provide the full details of our investigation. We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and would not base a decision to separate our relationship with a team member based on his or her ability level.

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