U.S. Bank temp says Occupy post got her fired

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2011 - 8:13 PM

She voiced her opinion on Facebook. The bank had cautioned workers not to engage with the protesters.

Kim Wangnoo said she figured her Facebook post was harmless.

From home, the U.S. Bank temp jumped into a discussion on Occupy Minnesota's page about the power-washing of the bank's windows across the street from where the protesters are camped out. She called the window cleaning a waste of time and money.

Then she lost her job.

Wangnoo, a 46-year-old mother of four in Brooklyn Center, insists the bank canned her over what she described as a few mild Facebook comments. She called it "creepy."

The Minneapolis-based bank, which has been a frequent target of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, confirmed that Wangnoo no longer works there. It declined to discuss the terms of her departure.

But spokesman Tom Joyce confirmed the company sent memos cautioning employees not to engage protesters. "There have been e-mails sent out from our corporate security team ensuring the safety of our employees," Joyce said. "It was really more of a safety issue."

As Wangnoo tells it, she had worked at U.S. Bank through Kelly Services for about four months in a group called Corporate Payment Systems doing new accounts for credit cards for trucking companies.

She was alert to the protest camp in the Hennepin County Government Center plaza across the street, she said, not only because it was so close, but because her stepson, a college student, was part of it. She supports the movement, she said, "but from a distance."

And she was annoyed at the window-cleaning. The metal barricades around the building were inconvenient, and water sometimes sprayed on her as she went in and out.

So, she said, she vented on the Occupy Minnesota Facebook page -- one of a handful of comments she said she made.

Then, late last week, her supervisor at U.S. Bank called her into her office. There, a copy of Wangnoo's comments was displayed, as well as an e-mail the company had sent to employees asking them not to talk to protesters. Wangnoo said the supervisor told her she'd violated the bank's policy.

A day or so later, Kelly Services told her she'd been fired.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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