Retail worker suspended over racism caught on camera

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Sears has suspended an employee who was caught making racially charged comments to a customer.
Facebook user Ethan Pineapple Frobischer posted the video on Saturday showing a Sears employee yelling at a customer who reportedly put his child on a display lawnmower.
Frobischer filmed the exchange, in which the employee can be clearly heard asking the customer if he “just came off the boat?”
The customer immediately starts demanding that the man be fired.
“That’s racist discrimination. I want him fired, I want him fired – you heard that,” he says, before following the man around the counter yelling profanities.
The video had had almost 1000 shares and more than 70 comments since it was posted on Saturday.
“That guy deserves to be fired,” wrote Lisa Brisebois-Breti.
Others were less convinced that the customer was in the right.
“There’s no excuse for saying what the guy said and I hope he loses his job. But is the other guy any better?” wrote Daniel Christian Csatari.
A Sears manager told CTV that the employee in question has since been suspended. She said the store’s general manager has been made aware of the situation, and that it was unfortunate that other customers and employees were forced to witness the exchange.
HR takeaway:
Anti-harassment policies should extend to customers and other third parties and should be part of the onboarding process. Make sure employees are regularly reminded of their obligations.
However, Sears would be managing the incident as an internal issue and investigation if the employee had not been caught on camera. The incidents of employees being caught behaving badly at work are only increasing, so it’s important HR start to address that as well.
Organizations with a large number of public-facing employees would be wise to incorporate a session on video and phone recording in their onboarding process and to remind employees that nothing is off the record.

Watch the video below. Please be aware it contains profanities that may offend some people.
  • Laura on 2014-03-05 9:08:32 AM

    Yes, the "boat" comment was rude and inappropriate and he should be reprimanded for that, through suspension (without pay) but instead of firing him, I think he should should receive training for customer service and diversity and equity training. In fact, the latter is something that would benefit all persons working in customer service.
    The customer, however, reacted aggressively and was not behaving appropriately either. So rather than just fire the guy, Sears should take this as an opportunity to implement diversity training for all of their employees.

  • Manuel on 2014-03-05 12:57:52 PM

    A suspension is a serious reprimand and may be adequate to satisfactorily enlighten the person on what is acceptable and what is not. "Did you just get off the boat" is a disrespectful comment to use with a customer. However, in my opinion, there are other remarks or insults that are more deserving of termination. The employer should consider other factors like length of service, work record, etc.

  • Joanne on 2014-03-07 11:40:22 AM

    In your last post it stated that Sears ultimately terminated the employee. I had commented that I would agree with the suspension but not a termination. Good luck to Sears at arbitration if the employee belongs to a union or good luck in court as they will not win if this was an isolated incident as termination was too severe.

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