A Rainbow Foods store manager said he was dealing with post-traumatic stress when away from his job.
A week after a jury convicted a St. Paul man of stabbing a Rainbow Foods store manager, the manager was fired by the store's parent company, Roundy's Supermarkets Inc., of Milwaukee.
On Wednesday, Scott Ostrom went public with his dismissal when his assailant, Russell T. Johnson, 68, of St. Paul, was sentenced to three years in prison for the pocketknife attack.
In a statement to Ramsey County District Judge Gary Bastian, Ostrom wrote of the struggles of trying to cope with the anxiety of being around loud customers before Roundy's eventually "determined I was out of the building too much" and fired Ostrom for "job abandonment."
"This event changed all me and [my] family worked to achieve," he wrote. "I am truly concerned with the possibility of losing our residence and displacing my family."
His story touched County Attorney John Choi, who on Wednesday wrote a letter to Roundy's Chairman Robert (Bob) Mariano, asking him to look into the firing.
"The trauma and anxiety that Mr. Ostrom has suffered is unfortunately not an unusual adversity faced by victims of crime," Choi wrote in the letter obtained by the Star Tribune in a data practices request. "However, what is unusual if accurate is Roundy's reaction and treatment of Mr. Ostrom as he was attempting to overcome these challenges."
Choi, who said Thursday that he also met with Ostrom, wrote that he was especially troubled by Ostrom's claim that he had been refused a request for reassignment before being fired.
In an effort to "clarify some of the facts and circumstances" surrounding its decision, Roundy's released a statement Thursday saying that while it understood the "great frustration" over the firing, the company had taken "extra care" with Ostrom following the attack at the Midway area store.
"We offered him counseling and additional time off, but he refused these offers of support," the statement said. "We honored his wishes, including his insistence that he wanted to immediately resume his responsibilities as the store director of the Midway store."
As store manager, Ostrom was to be there when expected, but instead was gone on numerous occasions, and failed to tell his supervisor that he needed to be away or could not be there, the company said.
Ostrom could not be reached for comment Thursday.
But, in his statement, he said that he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was working with a counselor.
"In time I hope I will be at least OK if not myself," he wrote.
Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041