MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The CEO of U.S. Bank apologized over the weekend following a report that an employee and her manager in Oregon were fired for what they did to help a customer.

The mea culpa came Saturday after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about Emily James, a Portland call center employee who drove on Christmas Eve to give $20 to a customer who’d been stranded at a gas station for hours.

When the higher ups at the Minneapolis-based company learned of what she did, they fired James and her manager, who had approved the gas station excursion. The reason? They violated company policy by putting James at risk.

Kristof wrote that he tried to call U.S. Bank CEO Andrew Cecere a number of times to understand the company’s decision. A phone call came only after the column was published. Cecere reportedly told Kristof, “I will fix this.”

In a statement published Saturday on the company’s website, Cecere wrote that he takes full responsibility for what happened.

“Our recent employment decision in Oregon does not reflect who we are as a company,” the statement said. “It is important to acknowledge our mistakes and when we fall short of our own high expectations…I am committed to working with these employees and others on the team to understand how we can do better.”

U.S. Bank is the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States, employing about 74,000 people. Last month, the company was listed as one of Fortune Magazine’s most admired companies.

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