The incident occurred in late April at a Lululemon store in Peachtree Corners, Georgia.
Lululemon’s CEO, Calvin McDonald, has defended the company’s decision to terminate the employment of two individuals who intervened during a robbery at one of its stores
Cellphone footage captured the moment two individuals wearing hoodies and face masks rushed into the store, grabbing armloads of merchandise near the entrance before fleeing. A female employee was seen near the entrance, but it remains unclear whether the footage was recorded by a customer or an employee.
McDonald, in an interview with CNBC, stated that Lululemon maintains a zero-tolerance policy for employee engagement during thefts, prioritizing the safety of both the team and customers. He emphasized that merchandise is replaceable, while lives are not. The CEO argued that the two employees knowingly violated company policy by interacting with the thieves and even following them outside the store. Ultimately, three men involved in the theft were apprehended.
The decision to terminate the employees has drawn criticism, particularly from conservative media outlets
However, Read Hayes, a criminologist at the University of Florida and director of the Loss Prevention Research Council, highlighted the delicate balance faced by retailers in such situations. Hayes emphasized the potential risks of confronting aggressive and violent criminals, citing cases where employees have lost their lives during intervention attempts.
Lululemon released a statement reiterating its absolute zero-tolerance policy for employee engagement that could endanger individuals. The company emphasized its long-standing safety protocols and the importance of prioritizing employee well-being over merchandise. The statement clarified that the terminated employees were not fired for contacting the police, as they were permitted to do so when necessary. Lululemon referenced the risks employees face and mentioned other retailers that have witnessed injuries or fatalities among staff or security personnel during theft intervention efforts.