18-year-old with autism says he was bullied by customer at East Bay grocery store

Bay Area

EAST BAY (KRON) — Eighteen-year old Joseph Leban has autism, but he doesn’t use that as an excuse and says he is trying.

“I’m working hard to do a good job, make everyone proud,” he said.

To one customer at the grocery store where he works, that wasn’t good enough.

“A customer asked me to get another frozen item from the frozen aisle and I didn’t know where it was and I asked another worker to help her out,” he said. “And she was all like ‘You need to hire somebody who knows where stuff is.'”

While that may not sound very intense, Leban says the tone was so harsh that another employee did their best to help him afterwards.  

Being autistic he gets sensitive very easily.

“Yes I was pretty upset about it and I had to talk to another worker about what happened and I was tearing up,” he said.

Leban’s mom says her son was in tears for two days.  

She took to Facebook, asking for people to think before they talk, saying you never know someone’s backstory.

Leban is autistic but he’s also a normal person who outside of work loves werewolves and superhero movies.

Three days since the incident and he says he’s doing better and doing his best to learn the store.  

He’s hopeful that others will do their best to be patient.

“I’m sticking up for those workers that have been bullied by customers,” he said. “Don’t treat people like that, treat people nicely and be polite, and just like I learned from a movie, if you be polite, the world will be right.”

This happened at a Safeway location, not this one in Concord, but another location in the East Bay.  

Leban says he doesn’t want this to be about the store though.  

He’s happy to have his job.  

He’s just hopeful that people will think twice before they get mean. 

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