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Lululemon CEO defends firing employees who confronted thieves: 'Step back, let the theft occur'

While the CEO said the women were not fired for calling the police, one of the former employees said Lululemon workers are not supposed to speak to law enforcement.

June 6, 2023 8:03am

Updated: June 6, 2023 3:52pm

Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald justified the firing of two employees who called the police when three masked thieves robbed a Georgia store by saying that the company has a "zero-tolerance policy" for engaging with thieves and that employees should "let the theft occur."

"We have a zero-tolerance policy that we train our educators on around engaging during a theft," McDonald said Friday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," as he used Lululemon's company terminology that refers to employees as "educators."

"We put the safety of our team, of our guests, front and center. It’s only merchandise," he also said. "They’re trained to step back, let the theft occur, know that there’s technology and there’s cameras and we’re working with law enforcement."

"We take that policy seriously because we have had instances – and we have seen with other retailers, instances – where employees step in and are hurt, or worse, killed. And the policy is to protect them. But we have to stand behind the policy to enforce it," McDonald added.

The former employees, Jennifer Ferguson and Rachel Rogers, said they knew about the policy but were fired without being given "specific reasoning." They also said they did not receive a severance package, according to the New York Post.

While McDonald said the women were not fired for calling the police, Ferguson told local outlet 11 Alive that Lululemon employees are not supposed to call law enforcement.

"We are not supposed to get in the way. You kind of clear path for whatever they're going to do," she said. "And then, after it's over, you scan a QR code. And that's that. We've been told not to put it in any notes, because that might scare other people. We're not supposed to call the police, not really supposed to talk about it."

Madeleine Hubbard is an international correspondent for Just the News. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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