What about Walmart?

Note: Gillane was sentenced to 96 years in prison on 12/14/11.

A jury this week found John Gillane, 46, the Walmart employee who shot and wounded three of his supervisors last year, guilty of seven felony counts, including two counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

But what about Walmart? Does this incident say anything about the employment practices of America’s largest retail chain? Or was it just a fluke involving an unstable employee?

A nine-year Wal-Mart employee, Gillane told police that Walmart was opening a new store that was causing a cut-back in employee hours and his medical insurance costs had increased. He said he believed one of the supervisors he shot, Eric Hill, gave him a bad evaluation and thought it wasn’t fair because Hill didn’t know him well.

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Gillane told police he was tired of being mistreated and wanted to “get even and embarrass Walmart.”

Interestingly, after the October 29, 2010 shooting, the victims reportedly said Gillane was well liked, had no work issues, and they were unaware that he disliked them.  The three have recovered from their physical injuries but testified they still feel pain and emotional distress from the incident.

In a taped interview with police, Gillane said he decided the night before that he was going to confront the managers. “Was I disgruntled? —- yeah, I was disgruntled. I was going to take on Goliath,” he said.

He went to Walmart at 7:15 a.m. with two guns and purchased a box of ammo. He hid in a bathroom stall and loaded a gun and waited.

Gillane said he went to the office of manager Richard Sanders, passing several employees whom he did not shoot. He said he displayed the gun and told  Sanders to call the other managers into Sander’s office. He planned to tell them to call  the corporate level at Walmart Stores Inc.  so he could “go over all this stuff, how they’re crapping on us. I knew I was going to get fired. Then everything went wrong.”

Gillane said he panicked when Sanders bolted.

Prosecutors portrayed Gillane as a ticking time bomb who was frustrated with life and intended to kill the supervisors and go out in a “blaze of glory.”

Clearly, Gillane’s problems were much larger than the superstore. He was broke, had recently been evicted, and was upset that two wives had left him for other women, and he rarely got to see his 5-year-old daughter. Gillane had threatened to commit suicide two weeks prior to the incident.

Gillane was also convicted of three counts of battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm, assault with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed weapon.  After deliberating more than seven hours, jurors failed to reach a decision on whether he intended to kill the first manager he shot, Sanders, whom he reportedly hated the most.

There is a long history in the United States of disgruntled employees taking up arms and shooting supervisors and co-workers.  A series of shootings by postal employees in the 1980s led to the term, “Going postal.”

In a 2000 report, a commission empaneled to investigate violence at the post office recommended that  USPS management, unions, and management associations overhaul the dispute resolution processes, which was a significant source of frustration and tension for employees and managers, and boost pay for non-management personnel.

Wal-Mart employs about one percent of the U.S. population and earns profits of more than $15 billion a year. The New York Times has reported that starting in 2012 all future part-time Wal-Mart employees who work less than 24 hours a week on average will no longer qualify for health insurance plans, and Wal-Mart is cutting its contributions to employees’ health savings accounts by 50 percent. Premiums for Wal-Mart employees are expected to increase from 17 to 61 percent.

A few years ago, Walmart expanded coverage for employees and their families after facing criticism that many of its 1.4 million U.S. workers could not afford or did not qualify for coverage — rendering  them eligible for Medicaid.

Walmart Shooter Felt Unfairly Treated

His supervisors said John Gillane was well liked and had no work issues.

However. John Gillane, 45, a nine-year veteran Walmart employee felt he was not fairly treated.

After purchasing ammunition at the Reno, NV, Walmart  store , Gillane shot and wounded three supervisors on Oct. 29, 2010.

Initial news reports indicated that employment conflict played no role in the incident. However,  the  Reno Gazete Journal newspaper has reported that court documents show that Gillane told police he  felt he was not treated fairly during his nine years of employment at the store. Gillane also was upset about a recent work evaluation by one of the three supervisors he shot, Eric Hill, and because his hours were being slashed.

Gillane  pleaded not guilty on Jan. 19, 2011 to attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm and assault with a deadly weapon.

Court records show that Gillane told detectives he felt like he was “taking on Goliath” when he fired gunshots Oct. 29, 2010 at three of his supervisors at the Kietzke Lane store. Wounded in the incident were Richard Burns, Rick Sanders and Hill.

Preliminary hearing testimony revealed Gillane had many other problems, including two former wives leaving him for female lovers, a recent eviction, the fact that he didn’t see his young daughter very often and increased health insurance rates. Police were called to Gillane’s motel room two weeks prior to the shooting because Gillane was armed and suicidal.

Gillane told police that he was trying to intimidate the managers when he confronted them with a large, loaded handgun. Two managers testified they were shot when trying to flee from Gillane, while the third was shot while standing in the hallway. Gillane told police he planned to confront the managers during their morning meetings, so they could call someone higher in the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. corporation to listen to his complaints.

The victims testified Gillane was well-liked and had no work issues, and they were unaware he disliked them.

There is a long history in the United States of disgruntled employees taking up arms and shooting supervisors and co-workers.  A series of shootings by postal employees in the 1980s led to the term, “Going Postal.”