Home Depot's Reward for Catching Shoplifter: "You're Fired!"

Home Depot has not had much positive media coverage in the past couple of years. Stories about declining morale among employees, sliding customer satisfaction ratings, and an ousted CEO who received $200 million to go away have not helped the one-time retail darling. Now, Home Depot has managed to make the front pages for all the wrong reasons by firing a store employee and general manager for stopping a shoplifter. Home Depot's policies prohibit employees from taking such action, so the company fired Dustin Chester, a 7-year employee and former employee of the year at its Murfreesboro, TN, store as well as the store's general manager.

One can understand why policies against employee intervention in a shoplifting situation exist. It can be viewed as a measure to protect employees who may not have adequate training to handle such situations, and it possibly minimizes the chances of a shoplifting incident escalating into a violent situation that could endanger customers and employees. But Home Depot did not handle this situation well. Assuming there are no other variables to consider (e.g., the employees had previous performance reprimands), the decision to fire the employees appears to be an over-reaction that has created a public relations embarassment. By adhering to its policies and failing to recognize a public backlash could occur, Home Depot has given many people in middle Tennessee yet another reason to shop at Lowe's! Link