Monday, September 12, 2011

Walgreens: The Happiest Employees Ever

Walgreens pharmacy is the largest chain pharmacy in the country. Like many massive businesses, it has a litany of policies. I haven't worked for Walgreens, but if their policy manual is anything like any of the other exceptionally large chain stores I've worked for, not only is it impossible to memorize the bible of corporate mandates, but many of the rules are contradictory.

For example: If two masked men come into your store, take an employee hostage, and fire upon you three times, you are not to defend yourself. Unless, of course, you want to be fired.

Jeremy Hoven, a pharmacist who was recently fired for the aforementioned circumstance, is fighting back. Walgreens claims that Hoven violated two of their policies: a Non-Escalation policy and a ban against employees carrying weapons.

Tiffani Washington, a spokeswoman for the Illinois-based company, said Hoven's actions broke procedures that Walgreens' developed in cooperation with law enforcement. "Our policies in this area are created to maintain maximum safety for our customers and employees," Washington said. "Our employees receive very comprehensive training on what to do in the event of this kind of situation ... Compliance is safer than confrontation."

Hoven originally obtained his license to carry after the exact same pharmacy was held up at gunpoint in 2007. So, you know, Walgreens is really intent on employee safety. Want to know how you can tell? The presence of security guards, on-site police, or any additional protections for their night shift employees at a pharmacy that has a history of criminality.

Oh wait... They don't have any of that.

They, instead, say that they carefully train their employees for how to handle situations like this. Well, I've worked about a half dozen retail jobs or more (it's more), and I can tell you how most of these places tell you to handle the situation:

  1. Give the criminal absolutely anything and everything they ask for.
  2. Hope they don't shoot you.
  3. Do not call the police or anybody with any power or authority until the situation is way, way over. 
That's definitely a way to make people feel safe.


I just wonder how Tiffani Washington of Walgreens would react if the two gunmen had killed their hostages and the pharmacist and made off with the money. I'm not a big fan of guns, but if I were one of the individuals whose life was saved by that pharmacist's actions, I'd be rethinking that position. The entire video of the situation is right here:


In completely unrelated news: Walgreens is getting sued by a diabetic/hypoglycemic woman who was fired by the company for eating chips to help regulate her blood sugar. 

According to the suit, Hernandez was working as a cashier in September 2008 when she felt an attack of hypoglycemia coming on. She grabbed a bag of chips, gobbled them down and paid for them as soon as she could the same day.

As a hypoglycemic person, I've let my employers know that - should my blood sugar start to drop - I WILL be grabbing the nearest starch (because starch converts to the sugar you need) and snacking down. I've had employers try to get me in trouble for this before, and I've let them know I would love to see them pay for an ambulance to come pick my body up off the sales floor.

All-in-all, it looks like Walgreens is the best place to work with the happiest employees in the world!

What do you think about these cases? Is the pharmacist a hero? Does that matter? Or, is the company right, and the letter of the law should apply in all cases without impunity?

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

4 comments:

  1. Trithal D. W. TsutaruSeptember 12, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    I once delivered pizzas in Tulsa in a part of town that used to be okay (before the indians put in a casino by the river), where a fellow driver was robbed at knife point during a shift I was also working. In the days that followed I was talking to another driver about going to a concealed carry class, when one certain @$$#0!3 manager blurted out "It's against company policy to carry weapons while on the clock". A week later I was fired for telling the same manager to f=(% off after he shared some snide comments with me. Corporate America likes to have things their own way, which usually doesn't mesh with real world situations. I find it amusing how the corporate masters like to whine about how things don't happen the way they want, and tend to take out their frustrations on those who don't dance precisely to their tune. I could ramble on and on but I won't. I wanna see what BS the tea party candidates are spouting on CNN.

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  2. What we need is a high-profile lawsuit successful affirming the right to self-defense and denying corporations to issue policies that try to force employees to act against their bodily interests.

    Unfortunately, it's going to take something horrific - like attempted rape - followed by the employee being fired for defending themselves. And it will probably need to be an attractive, 20-something white girl, for the media to pick it up.

    But should it be legal to fire someone for a clear case of self-defense? Absolutely not. And I judge "He's waving a weapon at me and threatening to use it" as self-defense, but I could be wrong, legally, I suppose.

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  3. Safety sometimes seems like a joke for corporate America. In the three and a quarter years I've been working at my job (CSR at a regional convenience store chain), the only thing they've done to discourage robberies was to start enforcing one of their rules in a different way. The only real things we do is keep our cash low; offer police officers free soda, coffee, and donuts; and have security cameras installed everywhere (but no actual notice of video surveillance). The free stuff for police officers is a holistic fix for a dangerous situation at best. (Who says officers want the junk we offer?)

    What makes matters worse is the store I'm at was robbed twice in the time I've worked there. I was never there when it was robbed, but I heard about it later. I also went to other stores and learned they had robberies either at that store, or nearby competitors.

    The really ironic thing is that the most policy changes seem to focus on things like carding customers for age-restricted products (our store had an infamous policy for one week where we carded every customer every time for cigarettes and lottery purchases), and other ways we interact with customers (i.e. suggesting sales, saying "see you later" as opposed to "have a good day," etc.).

    A note on the hypoglycemic case: if an employee knows they are hypoglycemic, the best advice I could give him/her is to purchase a starchy product in advance (either at your workplace, or elsewhere) and keep a portion or two on or near his/her person at all times. If the product is purchased where s/he works, keep a receipt nearby so no one can say s/he stole it.

    @ M Pennanti: In regards to your attempted rape comment, the scary thing is my workplace addresses rape in the training video on workplace crime.

    @Fire Lyte: Great job on the picture just before the video. Sometimes, I feel that way about my own job.

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  4. While watching the video I tried to imagine how it would feel to be one of the customers in the store. As a writer I'm quite good a putting myself in another person's position. Let me tell you, I felt the fear. You would definitely be wondering, "Am I going to die tonight?" Then there was a major sense of relief that followed when the store manager fought back and won. Yeah it was ballsy and probably very stupid, but he saved their lives. You can't assume otherwise. Good for him.

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