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Lululemon CEO responds to viral story about store employees fired for confronting thieves — then doubles down

Image source: Twitter @SquawkStreet screenshot

Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald is defending his company's decision to fire two employees who intercepted thieves.

What is the background?

Last month, two Lululemon employees — Jennifer Ferguson and Rachel Rogers — were fired for confronting three thieves who stole thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from the athletic wear retail store's Peachtree Corners location in Georgia.

The employees said they were given little explanation for their termination, other than for violating a zero-tolerance policy for confronting store thieves.

Lululemon later confirmed this. A representative for the company told TheBlaze that Ferguson and Rogers were fired for "knowingly violating our zero-tolerance policy related to physically engaging with the perpetrators which put their lives and the safety of our guests and other employees at risk."

Thanks to their actions, police apprehended the thieves, WXIA-TV reported, and they are facing felony robbery charges.

What did McDonald say?

Speaking on CNBC, McDonald justified firing the employees, whom Lululemon call "educators."

"We have a zero-tolerance policy that we train our educators on around engaging during a theft," McDonald said. "Why? Because we put the safety of our team [and] of our guests front and center."

According to McDonald, company policy directs Lululemon employees to allow thieves to steal at will.

"It's only merchandise at the end; [employees are] trained to step back, let the theft occur, know that there’s technology and cameras, and we're working with law enforcement," he explained.

"Unfortunately, in this situation the educators knowingly broke the policy, engaged with the thieves across multiple points — including following them out of the store — so post investigation and the zero-tolerance policy, which is well-known, that was what resulted in the termination," he added.

McDonald also dispelled the claim that the employees were fired because they called police.
Just as Lululemon told TheBlaze, McDonald told CNBC that employees are permitted to call police — just not intervene to stop crimes in progress.

"Just to be clear, our educators are able to call the police," he said. "We train them to step back. It's about their safety, and we take that policy seriously because we've had instances, and we have seen in other retailers instances where employees step in and are hurt or, worse, killed.

"The policy is to protect them, but we have to stand behind the policy, to enforce it, and that was unfortunately the situation in this store," he explained.

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