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The Shoe Store Incident

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The Shoe Store Incident

Susan Rodgers

HRM/546

August 10, 2015

Tad Davis


The Shoe Store Incident

Bob must decide if he is going to oblige the customer Imelda’s request for a female employee to help her. Since the store’s only female employee is working the back room today, thus allowing Tom to earn commission for the day. In addition, Imelda stated she would buy five pairs of shoes if the female employee would help fit her. Bob has a difficult decision to make for the store. To make his decision, Bob must consider the customer's wants, the store policies, and any discrimination liabilities.

Store Policy

        Store policy states that every store will have two employees working at a time. One employee in the front as a salesperson, and one in the stockroom. In addition the policy states the employees are to alternate days in the front and back. Finally, according to the policy the employee in the front of the store will earn a commission from all his or her sales for the day. (UOP, 2015)  By understanding the policy, the manager Bob knows that if he allows Mary to help Imelda he will be taking Tom's commission for the sales away from him. Although Imelda does not know the store policy, Bob must decide if the customer is always right and should always leave happy.

Possible issues with Title VII

Would Bob be in violation of gender discrimination by asking Mary to help Imelda instead of Tom, who is the salesperson of the day? Gender discrimination is covered under the Title VII laws which states no employee may discriminate against because of gender for any act of employment unless gender is a qualification of the occupation (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).

Although the customer may not realize what she has done, she has in fact discriminated against the male employee, and in turn is asking the manager to do the same. Most of the time when customers make requests like this they do not realize they are discriminating against the opposite gender they are asking to serve them. Bob must handle this situation and similar situations with care.

If Mary is allowed to help Imelda with fitting her shoes, then Tom loses the commission and Bob have gone against store policy and liable for gender discrimination against Tom. Although managers would like to think that customer requests are a legitimate reason for preference of gender and think that those same customer requests will protect the company from discrimination liability, however, they are wrong. It is illegal and unethical to discriminate because of gender just because it is something the customer requested.

The Choice

        This is a difficult situation for any manager. While on one side the company stands to profit from the customer's request because she has promised to buy five pairs of shoes if a female employee does her fittings. Besides, it would mean the store's reputation for putting customers first would be a benefit. Also Mary, the female employee, would stand to gain a large commission from Imelda's purchases.

        However, on the other side the customer, Imelda, may leave the store without making a single purchase if denied her request. In addition, allowing Mary to help Imelda would cost Tom his commission on the sale.  Also, Bob knows the store’s policy on employee rotation, and commission. Cheating Tom of his possible commission would be unethical of Bob.

        The best way to handle the situation is for Bob to explain to Imelda that today the store only has a male salesperson and the only female employee today is not a salesperson. In addition, Bob should gently tell Imelda that Tom is very capable of helping her and that he is quite knowledgeable about the shoes in the store and will make sure that all shoes Imelda buys will fit her properly. Bob needs to apologize for being unable to grant her request, due to the possibility of the company being liable for discrimination against their male employee. Finally, Bob should kindly give Imelda a business card and suggest if she must have a female employee to please call to inquire to avoid this difficulty in the future.

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