HR Strange But True!
May 19, 2003

We all know that HR is never dull. But sometimes it can get downright strange...

Scandal in the shoe department

Eight employees of the Nordstrom department store in downtown Seattle have been fired because they fixed a sales contest, according to the Seattle Times.

In the contest, shoe departments in the Nordstrom chain competed against each other for the best day in selling the Munro brand of women's shoes, with every employee in the winning department getting $500.

Nordstrom said it fired the eight after an internal investigation revealed that they had sold shoes to themselves and rung up sales for co-workers, family members, friends and customers - knowing all the while that the shoes would be returned in a few days. The Times noted that Nordstrom is known for a generous return policy, in which it takes back most items unconditionally.

One of the fired employees, who didn't want to be named, told the Times: "Basically ... we manipulated the contest."

A company spokeswoman said internal security systems flagged an unusually high volume of returns after the Munro event and detected employees ringing up sales for themselves. The latter is grounds for termination in itself.

Normally, Nordstrom employees don't earn commissions for items that are returned. But in the contest, employees received $5 for each pair of Munro shoes they sold. (That's in addition to the $500 prize.) At the downtown Seattle store, Munro American Vice President Mollie Munro handed out $5 bills on the spot, according to the Times.

The fired employee told the Times that sales manipulation is a common practice for store sales and contests. The Nordstrom spokeswoman, Shasha Richardson, had a different take: "The vast majority of our employees are honest and ethical. It's really sad because we have a few employees who made some poor choices."

Source: The Seattle Times

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