If You Give a Cop a Cookie You Might Get Suspended

by Evil HR Lady on July 10, 2017

Let’s say you manage a cookie store and you have a teenage boy working for you. A police officer, in uniform, comes through this boy’s line and orders a cookie. The boy, wanting to thank the police officer for his service uses his own money to pay for the cop’s cookie. Do you:

1. Tell your employee how proud you are of his generosity.

2. Ignore this. It’s neither good nor bad.

3. Reprimand the employee for treating customers differently.

4. Suspend the employee and threaten to fire him until the story goes viral.

If you picked number 4, you just might be senior management at Great American Cookies Katy Mills.

According to his mom’s account on Facebook, after he bought the cop a cookie, the next man in line became angry and threatened violence, even trying to come behind the counter. Thankfully, the threat didn’t come to fruition, but the angry customer added another threat: “I will get you fired.”

To keep reading, click here: If You Give a Cop a Cookie You Might Get Suspended

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny July 10, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Unfortunately, you can’t always “investigate before you act.” An investigation takes time, and — in the meantime — you have to do something with the employee, whether you call it suspension or something else. That being said, such an investigation should be concluded as quickly as possible, consistent with being thorough.

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Goober July 10, 2017 at 8:51 pm

If you suspect an employee without hearing their side of it first, you’re doing it wrong.

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HRJeanne July 10, 2017 at 11:30 pm

Agreed. And if the customer threatens physical violence to your employee, that seems like a ridiculous time to discipline the EMPLOYEE. Honestly.

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Goober July 11, 2017 at 2:57 am

Without an investigation, you can’t tell if the customer threatened the employee, or if the employee made that up to cover their ass. The key thing is to investigate *before* doing anything that punishes the employee. Sometimes, the accusation against the employee is serious enough that you do have to have them not be there while you investigate, but to do so _without hearing their side of it_ first is unfair. Suspending them with pay is appropriate under some circumstances, while the investigation is still going on. Suspending *without* pay is *punishment*, though.

It’s hard to think of a circumstance where a suspension without hearing the employee’s side of it would be appropriate where it actually matters. If, for instance, the employee was arrested, whether or not they are suspended is academic.

To quote the CEO of a guy who completely, utterly dominated his industry, “My customers are only my #3 priority. My #1 priority is my employees. My #2 priority is my vendors. If I take care of #1 and #2, #3 is already taken care of.”

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charles July 11, 2017 at 10:17 am

“you have to do something with the employee”

Why?

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Observer July 11, 2017 at 6:10 pm

1. You do NOT always have to “do something” with the employee. And, in the case where an infraction is BUYING SOMEONE A COOKIE it’s really, really hard to make the case that it is such a serious matter that you HAVE to do something THIS MINUTE.

2. It shouldn’t have taken more than a few minutes to find out from the server what his side of the story was, and a few more minutes to get corroboration. Even if the store manager was not in the area (in the back, or something) he would have heard the shouting, and these places have security footage. The problem is that it’s clear they did not bother to take the few minutes – they only “reviewed” the situation after they got blowback.

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Goober July 11, 2017 at 6:32 pm

I would like to note that the store manager was the one who stood up for him. It was corporate who flew off the handle without bothering to hear both sides of it – or, apparently, talking to the store manager – first.

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Observer July 12, 2017 at 12:01 am

That’s true, which makes this even more egregious.

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Jackie July 10, 2017 at 6:02 pm

I had a good manager once who stressed we stick up for our employees. It was the exception.

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Dorothy July 10, 2017 at 8:37 pm

Jackie, my very first manager stood up for us. I thought that was the norm. Alas, no.

Granny bun, it’s too bad “suspension n” has taken on such a negative connotation. It would be great if we could see it as ‘a neutral time-out so we can live ok into things’ that would be great.

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Goober July 10, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Only if it’s suspension with pay until the investigation is finished. Otherwise, it *is* negative, because the employee is being financially punished.

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Julie July 10, 2017 at 11:31 pm

Here is the perfect example of a time the customer was not right (I hate the saying the customer is always right). Unless the company has a policy against employees making purchases while working, the angry customer should have been asked to leave and not come back. What a jerk!

This company definitely did the wrong thing. Why would you punish an employee for doing a nice thing just because someone else didn’t like it? Way to teach the kid that being kind has it’s rewards…..

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Goober July 11, 2017 at 3:00 am

I disagree that a customer who threatens violence should be banned. Or, rather, that he should *only* be banned. A police report should have been filed (especially if he made to come behind the counter). Always. Not being interviewed by a cop teaches the guy that, at the very least, that behavior will have no negative consequences.

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Julie July 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Well, I was thinking more along the lines of “get the angry customer out of the business before someone gets hurt” but yes, your idea to file a police report is correct. One could even file it after the customer left, if they knew the person’s name, I would assume.

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Horse Tense July 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Big bad hot shot this guy is! I am assuming the customer waited for the Police Officer to leave the premises before airing his “grievances” (I have another word, but this is Evil HR Lady so I will err on the side of class), in this case Real Big Man,

If he didn’t wait, and the Police Officer was still there and witnessed this and handled it, and management had to actually throw down with corporate to stop them from firing him, (suspension sounds to me that the manager was forced into it to keep him.)

Shock and awe, I am dumbstruck.

This kid had better get a few kowtows, back pay for his suspension, a week of paid vacation, and some other “thank you for you service, and we are sooooo sorry.”

Until I hear how this ends, I will not be patronizing this business…

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