South Carolina man loses job over drink refill - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

South Carolina man loses job over drink refill

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WHDH) - A man in Charleston lost his job after taking a refill from a hospital cafeteria that he said he didn’t know he had to pay for.

According to a hospital spokesperson, signs posted in the cafeteria informed patrons that refills were not free.

Christopher Lewis said he never noticed the signs and admitted he had refilled his drink without paying on other occasions.

Then, one day, he refilled his cup and a man who identified himself as the chief of police stopped him.

"As I was filling my cup up, I turned to walk off and a fellow grabbed me by the arm and asked me was I going to pay for that, and I told him I wasn't aware that I had to pay for that," Lewis said.

He said he tried to pay the $.89 charge, but was not allowed to. He was taken to a room and given a $525 ticket for shoplifting and told not to return to the property.

"I'm done there, at the VA hospital. I'm not allowed to go on the premises anymore. I asked him can I still work on the job site and just bring my lunch and not got to the cafeteria and he said he wanted me off of the premises."

"Every time I look at the ticket, it's unbelievable to me. I can't fathom the fact that I made an $.89 mistake that cost me 525 dollars."

A hospital spokesperson said it was her understanding that Lewis was aggressive during the confrontation. The medical center released a statement:

"The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is fortunate to have a highly trained Federal police force to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees. As Federal police they are responsible for enforcing the law."

According to the VA spokesperson, the amount of the fine was not determined by the hospital, as it was a federal citation.
"It's about pretty much I guess you would say getting your face back. I want everybody to know that I made a simple mistake. That I'm not a thief. That I'm not dishonest. I'm trying to do the right thing," Lewis said.
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