Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fired Over Employee Discount

I am a retail store manager who has worked for the same company for 10 years. I have never had any HR issues, never put on displinary action. My store is usually in the top 3 of the 10 stores in our district.

This week I was terminated for selling myself a $30 item with an employee discount. I was told, it probably would have been better if I had rung the item up under one of my employee's name..!

Obviously, there is something else at work here, but I do not know what. I am ready to move on and not dwell on the negative. But this action has left me attempting to explain my termination. I have never been in such a situation before.

The HR Dept told me that most potential employers call for employment verification, in which case HR would tell them my service dates and job title only. But I am a bit concerned about telling a prospective employee that I was 'downsized'. Do you have any suggestions on how this should be discussed?

Before I give my two cents, what do you think, Job Loungers? How should Confused explain what happened, or how can she avoid having to even mention the situation?


Susan Ireland said...

Dear Confused,
Something strange is going on here. You were an employee of the company so why didn't you qualify for the employee discount? Did you ask them about that before you left the company?

Your problem now is how to talk about your departure from your previous employer when you're in an interview. You need to explain it in as few words as possible so that you satisfy the interviewer's curiosity without getting into the details.

How about something like this:

"After ten years at the same company, it seemed like it was time for a change. I knew there were other possibilities for my career growth and so now I'm pursuing those opportunities. That's why I'm here today."

Don't mention the employee discount ordeal. Focus on your achievement at your former job and how excited you are to move on to even greater accomplishments at this new company.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

Having worked in HR in a retail environment for many years, I have come across similar situations, although rarely with a store manager. This person in all likelihood *was* entitled to the employee discount, however, selling something to yourself in my experience is generally frowned upon for a number of reasons. First, if it's a commission based environment, essentially this person made money for themselves by selling themselves an item. Second, although I have no doubt that this person was 100% ethical in their transaction - giving the appropriate discount percentage - the potential for that kind of ethical transgression is there, so employees are typically encouraged to have coworkers assist each other with purchases.

If this was a one-time offense, and the employee was honest about the transaction, I am surprised they were let go, instead of just being warned and documented.

I do agree with your advice to the employee. I just wanted to fill in the blanks about the potential reasons behind the termination.

Susan Ireland said...

Thank you, anonymous, for your perspective!