Banker claims she was fired for helping man in need on Christmas Eve

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN/CNN) - A former employee for U.S. Bank says she lost her job for helping a cash-strapped customer who was worried he wouldn’t be able to afford Christmas presents for his kids.

Emily James, a senior banker at the U.S. Bank call center in Gresham, Ore., says she was fired after filling a customer's gas tank and giving him $20 on Christmas Eve. (Source: KOIN/CNN)

Emily James, a senior banker at the U.S. Bank call center in Gresham, Ore., says she was working Dec. 23 when a customer called because the bank had put a hold on his paycheck.

He said his bank account was empty, and he wouldn’t be able to buy his kids presents or afford living expenses for several days.

James says she tried for two days to fix the problem but couldn’t get the paycheck to clear before the bank closed for the holidays.

On Christmas Eve, she asked her supervisor if she could leave work and fill the man’s gas tank using her own money. James says her supervisor agreed, so she met the customer at a gas station, filled his tank and gave him $20.

Just days later, on New Year’s Eve, James says she was fired over the incident.

“I can’t change the world, but I can change the world for that person,” James said. “I would rather my morals align with someone who’s more willing to support someone like that than someone who’s willing to throw away two-and-a-half years and a lot of dedication.”

James says she received 13 awards and numerous thank-you notes from customers and colleagues during the two years she worked at U.S. Bank. Now, she’s out of a job and no longer has medical insurance. She says some of her medications cost $1,900 out-of-pocket.

U.S. Bank said it couldn’t comment because it’s an employee matter.

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