These are my arguments in support of my allegations of wrongful termination:
Retaliation: I was wrongfully terminated for not snitching on another employee. A new minority cashier (Vietnamese?) improperly processed a discounted purchase I was entitled to as a military veteran. (Mother’s Day flowers) The Loss Prevention interrogators, one black and the other white, accused me of being in a conspiracy to defraud the store. (Having paid by credit card, I didn’t discover the error until later after having left the store.) The interrogators said I was required to turn the cashier in. The fact that I did not turn him in was “proof” that I was in a conspiracy to defraud the store. Then they fired me on the spot (7-12-14).
2) Unsafe Environment: The Home Depot environment is stressful and psychologically unsafe. Because of the unsafe environment, there is no way I would snitch on a fellow minority for his mistake as a rookie and cause him to be fired. Its not like he shot someone. The atmosphere / environment is such that to snitch on someone’s mistake is suicide. In being ostracized by fellow workers, there is the danger that the person you snitched on may be the favorite of your manager. These managers will take revenge on you via employee reviews, lousy job assignment, a cut in hours or fire you, etc. The unspoken rule here is you keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. There is no procedure or safe procedure in place to bring the matter up with “management.” Gossip travels fast here. There are no secrets...lots of petty politics. The normal conditions are stressful; to snitch or complain is to bring hell upon yourself.
It is my understanding and accepted American business doctrine that if the cashier is not performing, it’s management’s fault; insufficient training, lack of supervision or insufficient experience for the job assigned. Further more, when I made my purchase, I was off duty...I was a customer and not responsible for the performance of a cashier.
3) Discrimination in various forms.
Racism: The interrogators accused me of being in conspiracy with the rookie cashier. Their “proof” was the fact that we are both minorities, that we both live in Pittsburg, CA and “there is a lot of crime in Pittsburg” and that we routinely participate in criminal acts.
Lack of training discrimination: for us entry level minorities. This is how it works: most of us minorities working in the sales associate department are the lowest paid employees. We receive minimum training in spite of being essential sales people. We are required to be pleasant to the customers, have product knowledge and help facilitate the sale process. Our function is an important part of the success of Home Depot.
However, after the minimum break-in training, we are left to ourselves to accumulate more training and knowledge in order to do our jobs proficiently and hang on to our jobs. “On our own” means in between servicing customers which leaves us precious little time for advanced training. There is no regular training programs in place where time, place and materials are set aside for further training.
Further training for us means we need to kiss up to our immediate supervisor or fellow veteran employee for the information we need...if we and they have time between servicing customers. Our immediate supervisor or fellow veteran employee is not required to share their knowledge. Naturally, this puts stress on the new employee trying to gain knowledge in order to keep their job and advance.
When a new employee comes in with inherent experience or is a quick learner, he / she becomes a threat to others because job security does not exist. Add to that environment the factor that people are being fired for the smallest infractions or harassed until they quit. So you end up with minorities competing with minorities trying to curry favors in order to keep their jobs. This is because there is no training system and no fair promotional procedure in place. Its a dog eat dog environment on purpose. Asking for more pay can lead to trouble. You are replaceable. Of course, if the new employee is inept, he poses no threat to others but is usually the victim of verbal harassment from others and in turn is stressed out. Under these conditions, it would be stupid to snitch on a fellow employee and in turn suffer the consequences.
Under these conditions Home Depot is practicing a form of economic slavery. These are the similar techniques American slave owners used in the 1700s and 1800s. Rebellion was always a consideration when buying slaves for the plantations. Specifically, there would never be two slaves from the same tribe. Having multiple languages, the slaves were hard pressed to organize and rebel. Of course, the “trouble makers” were routinely whipped in front of their peers to keep them and others in line.
Home Depot does the same (whipping) by routinely punishing or firing for the slightest perceived infraction. There is no system in place where as an employee’s supervisor or other entity is made available to protect an employee’ rights. There is no system in place that allows a third party to witness the interrogation performed by Loss Prevention personnel. The behavior of these Loss Prevention personnel is akin to Stalin and German Gestapo techniques. You are harassed and coerced until you write a document to the satisfaction of the interrogators; then they fire you. There is no safe system by which employees can organize and voice grievances against Home Depot without retaliation.
Home Depot hired extra security personnel specifically to prevent me from passing out informational flyers to fellow employees in protest of my wrongful termination (see attached). A store manager was seen grabbing my flyers out of employees hands and ordering them not to read it. Extra security personnel were seen on Sunday July 13, 2014 at the entrances to the Concord Home Depot specifically looking for me. On this same day I received an email from the area Human Resource office asking me to call her (I didn’t). This confirms my belief that the unsafe environment is purposely in place to prevent forms of employee “rebellion.” There is no doubt in my mind that any union considerations will be ferociously fought by Home Depot.
Intentional lack of training: an important fact is that the intentional lack of training insures that this group of sales associates (mostly minorities) never get to climb the corporate ladder or improve their skills such that they can justify a substantial raise. If you are proficient and demand a raise, they find a way to get rid of you. I was very proficient and well liked by all. It may be possible that I was fired to keep the others scared and insecure about their jobs. Insecure people do not ask for raises. Denying training to a specific group of employees while giving training to others (higher management) is a form of discrimination. Upper management have regular training, promotional procedures and raise procedures in place. We just get lip service.
Discrimination by Irregular work hours: I worked as a sales associate. Most of us are minorities. Most of us prefer to work full time and would love to enjoy the same benefits that higher management enjoy; such as training to enhance our careers and to justify raises; medical and vacation benefits, etc. However, we are not allowed to be full-time workers even though the labor demands are there. The hours are hellishly irregular. (Example: Monday 6am to 1pm, Wednesday 6PM to midnight, Saturday 10am to 8pm, Sunday 1pm to 9pm). Then it completely changes the next week.
What does this mean? It means it is very difficult to have a second part time job to supplement our income. It means most of us are living near or under the poverty line. It means we really need to hang on to this Home Depot job. It means we dare not complain or make demands for fair treatment. The slightest “infractions” can get us fired, assigned to a lousy job or worse, a cut in hours. This is the method they use to keep us insecure and from making any reasonable demands. This in turn formulates a very stressful, insecure, psychologically unsafe working environment which is illegal.
The benefit of the policy of irregular hours to Home Depot: by intentionally establishing an insecure environment as explained above, Home Depot is able to keep the salaries extremely low. Irregular hours almost guarantees a stunted learning curve which is used against us to justify no raises. We are hired with promises of fair promotions, etc., but fired or “motivated” to quit when we become to proficient and asking for our promised raises. On the other hand, management has the security of regular hours and training as such that they can plan their lives around their job. We have to jump when called upon and required to execute our jobs regardless of our experience or training; and punished if our performance is deemed substandard. The punishment is low wages / no raises.
Denial of benefits to minorities: this is another form of discrimination. We sales associates are the cornerstone of a store’s generating of profits. But the Home Depot system is deliberately set up so that our specific class of workers are not allowed to benefit from the profits along the same formulas as the middle and upper management class. We are required to generate sales but not allowed to share in the profits and benefits. It seems to me illegal for Home Depot to have two sets of policies for their employees.
I you feel inclined to support me with details of your experience my email is: [email protected]