Shorty # 15: Zero Tolerance for Zero-Tolerance Policies

Are zero-tolerance policies in the workplace a necessary evil or an overzealous enforcement? Tune in as we, your hosts, Warren and Feathers, unpack this contentious issue. We’re diving headfirst into the murky waters of a recent controversy at a Lululemon store in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, where two employees were dismissed following a run-in with suspected thieves. Was the punishment equal to the crime? Were discretion and judgment thrown out the window? We’re peeling back the layers to stimulate some thought on the effectiveness and fairness of zero-tolerance policies.

Do these one-strike-and-you’re-out policies do more harm than good in issues of workplace harassment and discrimination too? Let’s probe deeper. We also turn the spotlight on creating a professional environment and setting boundaries with coworkers – a conversation that’s more relevant than ever. In between all the seriousness, we take a breath to appreciate the delightful LinkedIn posts of David Smith, sure to bring a smile to your face. So, join us on this rollercoaster ride as we laugh, ponder and uncover insights on these crucial HR matters. Buckle up; it’s going to be a compelling journey.

Rough unedited transcript…



Had you actually read the email, you would know that the podcast you are about to listen to could contain explicit language and offensive content. These HR experts’ views are not representative of their past, present or future employers.

Warren 00:17

Welcome to JadedHR, the podcast by two HR professionals who want to help you get through to workday by saying all the things you’re thinking, but say them out loud. I’m Warren And this is Feathers. It’s like deja vu all over again. So I want to thank our JadedHR rock star, hallie, for her support of the show. As I mentioned earlier, we are using it. I just purchased some AI software developed for podcasts and I’m giving it a trial for this month And we’ll see how it goes. I’ll give a follow-up to everybody on how that goes. So if you want to help us improve our podcast and believe me, it needs some improvement you can go ahead and support us too on Patreon by Severe or through our podcast host, but also you can leave a review. We just had a review we read on the last episode. So do that too, and I’ll check all the reviews, even international, very, very shortly. So you and I discussed a little while back that you’d saw the story and I saw the story. We both wanted to make a episode out of it or some bring it a topic that. So I think it’s a pretty good way to go for a shorty episode like this.


So if you haven’t heard Lululemon, which is an athletic wear company. They do some of those really fancy workout leggings and things like that Lululemon their store in Petrie Corners, georgia. They had some I forget what the term is off the top of my head. Organized retail theft is the term they use. So people will come in and just go in as a group, grab as much as they can get. Sometimes they fill duffel bags and whatnot and they steal it and they sell it. They just resell it and they didn’t pay anything for it. But these things end up at flea markets and even on eBay and Amazon and things like that. So at this Lululemon store in Petrie Corners, georgia, this happened and the two employees ended up getting fired because of the Lululemon zero-tolerance policy for confronting robbers of their store. What did the two employees do? Well, one of them basically stood at the front of the door yelling at them to get out. So the other employee recorded the incident on her cell phone and then followed the thieves outside. Like I said, both employees were fired and I wanted to talk about this. Does that penalty equal the crime? Especially just the first person? get out, tell them to get out. That’s not confronting, in my not-so-humble opinion. The people of Georgia said get out, get out. What I don’t I don’t know now the the person who actually left the store, videotaped it and left the store. I could be convinced either way about that, but I Don’t know is.


I Wrote a blog post about it and I actually got it as my screen notes to share a show notes for today. But I think that, well, the title my blog post is zero tolerance for zero tolerance policies. I think the zero tolerance policies suck. You have to have judgment and discretion in any aspect you are you’re doing and I was discussing with somebody else and We were trying to decide is there any situation where a zero Tolerance policy is should be enforced? and the only thing we could agree on was violence in the workplace, whether it’s actual violence or threatened violence. You got to go period in a story, that’s it.


And we we debated about harassment and discrimination and I’m gonna have a very unpopular view, but I said that may not be at immediately terminal offense and You know if if it’s, you know just someone Asking someone out and they rejecting it, that was an unwelcome to advance, then maybe that’s you know. Hey, don’t do that anymore. But you know, if it’s something severe, like a quid pro quo, or maybe even a manager dropping the n-bomb on a African American employee. That’s a no brainer, you got to go. But there’s there’s degrees of severity in between the hey, will you go out with me, no, i don’t want to go out there. And then they reporting at HR and Dropping an n-bond on somebody. So there’s degrees. So I just agreed with my friend on that, whether discrimination and harassment would be an automatic ticket out.


But anyways, the CEO of Lulu lemon, calvin McDonald, he issued a statement and he said they wanted to address concerns. We have a, he said, in this particular case. We have a zero tolerance policy that we train our educators on around engaging during a theft. Why? because we put safety of our team and our guests front and center. It’s only merchandise. Let me tell you that Lulu lemon merchandise. It ain’t cheap merchandise. You’re not getting it at Walmart, i Think, like leggings go for like a hundred bucks, eighty a hundred bucks and things like that. It’s like wow, crazy. So anyways. But he went on to say these employees knowingly broke the policy for it. But Once again, where does judgment in discretion come into play here? I Give me your thoughts as you’ve read this article, but you know, before we talked about it as well, we’re in, yeah, so I can.

Feathers 05:39

I can think of like one of their situations Usage in the sense of like heavy equipment. So like, if you’re a drama for okay, or drama, i try to yeah, i, i Can agree.


That’s all that that’s all never like in a minor like quickly, of like being a zero tolerance, only because I worked in that industry, where heavy equipment is being happening in lives or lives would be very easily put at risk. Now, with this being a zero tolerance policy, i think it’s a bunch of bullshit. However, you know, i’m torn because if, if policy is clearly stated, the person understands the policy, or at least they sign off or however, whatever bulls**t rules we want to put in place, then I mean I can justify the termination and I can also like give them a. This is a struggle. I don’t think they should have been fired. I would have probably fought this one, but then again you would have to revisit the policy. I get it. They’re trying to keep their people safe. Okay, right, i mean I will give them kudos for that. However, is this really the zero tolerance policy that you want to have?

Warren 06:53

Right, yeah, i think at least the employees just yelling at them to get out.

Feathers 07:01

That’s the job, no that one Yeah, just get out now. The one following behind Yeah, i can justify You twice, right, and I mean, and especially because I told them my sizes, i’m still waiting for my stuff to come in the mail Because I mean, i don’t know what it does. You put little limits on it And also you look like magic.

Warren 07:25

I’m going to have to try some of that then, like nips and tucks are the right places. Oh Lord, no, please no. But so so I agree. Oh boy, i agree on first number one. I am. I actually came up with my suggestion for them. I’d put them, i’d provide remedial training for them. Hey, you broke the policy. Here’s the policy. Go over it again. And you know, let them know that it continues to happen. You know, in the future and since it’s that would be gone. But also we don’t know their prior employment history. Now, employee two, the one who followed him out the door, you know, yes, that could have provoked the fleet. He’s seen it become violent. So I could, i could be persuaded That wouldn’t be my first choice on employee number two, but if somebody was being really hard lined on me I would end up not digging into digging my heels in too deep. On employee number two In my retail time we actually dealt with these type of.


I worked at a CVS pharmacy of all places as a retail manager, which were the worst couple of years of my life. But when dealing with this organized retail stuff, these people would come in with duffel bags and just sweep out entire rows of merchandise and leave, and I had a World War Two veteran employee working for me. His name was Teddy. I’m sure he’s no longer on this planet, but no, that that’s nearly what happened. This if this was the 90s and you know he was he was definitely at least in his 70s. Then he chased those dudes out the door. He’s running after them. Look up Merrill’s marauders. He was a member of Merrill’s marauders in World War Two. He chased after them and he got one of the two of them to drop their duffel bag.


Now he did get a very stern talking to, but he didn’t care. He did not care And if it happened again the next day he would have done the exact same thing again And if he could have caught him he would have been those guys. Those young guys should have been embarrassed that a 70 some year old man is chasing their asses out the door and they’re running like there’s no tomorrow from them. But yeah, he did get a severe talking to, but I didn’t even try to pursue any disciplinary action on that. Hey, you know, once it’s out the door, it’s out the door We’re. You know, we’re not going to do anything more. That was the sort of policy than if I remember.


But yeah, lula Lemon, i think. I think they’ve got a lot of bad coverage on this. I would like to know more of the sort. They did end up catching the thieves and I don’t know whether it’s because of the video of the person who chased him out the door, maybe got their license plate number or something like that. They did catch the thieves, so that’s why your Lula Lemon has not arrived from them. So you’ll have to wait for those real a little longer, for those really nice leggings, or you can sponsor us on Patreon and I will buy feathers, a pair of Lula Lemon leggings and we will put it up on her Instagram page of them wearing like.


No, i don’t know The first person to donate a hundred bucks. That’s what we’re going to do with it. You have to donate a hundred bucks to buy me a beer and we will buy Feathers, some Lulu limits and post that on Instagram. So, anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this shorty episode today. Thanks for joining us. Our best practice is going to be again from David Smith, and I’ve been going through his LinkedIn and was copying some of these things. Uh, he writes for best practice. A professional work environment is not appropriate for your mama jokes. Don’t start a meeting by staying to a co-worker. When your mama goes to the beach, she looks like a moai being transported to the coast, wobbling back and forth and then pantomime, walking like a penguin. Well, you make a face. So that is your best practice for today. No, you’re my mature. Start me.


Oh that’s a good one.

Feathers 1:38

I’m right, i’m a. I’m a text out to some mutual friends. I’d like hey guys, no more humanma jokes.

Warren 11:44

If you don’t already follow David Smith on LinkedIn. He works at Amazon. So, of the three million David Smiths, that’s how you will or you will find him. It’s got, he’s got some. Just it makes me laugh every day. It actually makes me. Every time I say I’m not gonna go on LinkedIn anymore, he makes me come back on. So, anyways, that’s all we’ve got for today. No music. But the intro was by Andrew Copa. As always. I’m Warren, mrs Fathers, who’s not wearing Lulu mim and yet, but we’re here helping you survive HR one. What the fuck moment at a time.

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About Jaded HR

Jaded HR is comedy podcast about the trials and tribulations of life in a human resources department….or just a way for HR Professionals to finally say OUT LOUD all the things they think throughout their working day.

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