Friday, March 5, 2010

Punished for deciding to serve our country? Wow, Furniture Row,

UPDATE: Someone anonymously (and respectfully, and intelligently, and eloquently - hm, imagine that) commented on this post, and I completely agree with what they had to say. I hadn't thought of it that way, but upon reading it, find that I agree, so I've removed the pictures that were originally included in this post. Feel free to go to the comments section to read why.

This is an email I received from my good friend whose son has recently decided to join the army and was consequently fired by his employer, Furniture Row, the next day. I found it disturbing, and I felt that I should share (okay, and rant a little bit) because I think that everyone should take 5 minutes out of their day to let this company know (via email listed at the bottom of my friend's letter) that what they did was dumb.

"My son Chris has worked for Furniture Row for 2 yrs. He joined the Army Reserve and told 'em basic training was in 6 weeks. The next day Chris was fired for "lack of focus". How's that for a “Thanks for Serving Our Country?” We will not be shopping at Furniture Row, Oak Express or Big Sur Waterbed. Please pass this along, and let the CEO know that what they did was wrong."

I think that's just crazy! I also think that employers are kidding themselves if they think that they are fooling anyone by giving some random, lame excuse for firing someone after. they. tell. you. they've. joined. the. reserve! It is beyond ridiculous!

At the very least, any (half-intelligent) employer worth his salt would have the sense (PR, social, or otherwise) to pull him aside, tell him to "focus," (ha!) and let him work for the remaining 6 weeks!

And now, without further ado, I give you... a Lola Letter: (ahem)

Dear Furniture Row, it's CEO and affiliates,
Who fires a newly signed American Soldier? Who FIRES the person who just agreed to risk his life (and possibly GIVE his life) to protect YOUR right to be a totally shady jerk of a businessman? Honestly! Isn't that right along the lines of "biting the hand that feeds you?" I would say that it is... So, shame on you, Furniture Row!

How embarassing for you. I hope this message spreads far and wide, because, while I'm sure that what you did was "legal," it certainly wasn't ethical. This soldier may not be able to take you to court, but he can certainly tke your customer base right out from under you. You see, we Americans like to support businesses who support our community and even MORE importantly, who support our troops. You may want to take that into consideration the next time you think you want to fire someone (who has loyally worked for you for two years)!

The fact that he worked there for 2 years tells us a lot about the kind of employee he must have been, as being a crummy employee would have gotten him fired during his first couple of WEEKS, right? Or is it usually your policy to allow crummy workers to staff your business for upwards of two years? (That is, until they make the grave mistake of signing up for the guard, of course.)

And furthermore, if he really did "lack focus" (okay, I'll admit it, I'm laughing a little bit even as I write that, but hey, let's be fair and give YOU the benefit of the doubt for a moment) it was still one of the dumbest Public Relations moves of all time! A newly. signed. American. Soldier. You canned him. Let me say it again. Someone made the huge, life-changing decision to serve our country and protect our freedoms, and you fired him the next day. Do I need to say it again, or are you getting SOME sort of clue as to how stupid this was? Well then, I'm glad I could help bring some clarity (and, um... maybe even a little common sense) to the situation. Happy to help.

With love,
(okay, not so much in this particular case,
but that's how I generally like to end letters)

And seriously, dear readers, if you knew my friend, and what a great mom she is, and what great, hard-working kids she has, (you know, like the kind that decide they'd like to commit to serving our country?) you would know (as surely as I know) that this is m.e.s.s.e.d. u.p.!!!

So, grab that email up top and let em know what you think. (And of course...let us know what you think here as well).

With love,
(and I really do mean it this time)


Barbaloot said...

Wow-thanks for sharing that info. I feel horrible for that kid and his family!

Frau said...

Unbelievable! I hope they lose their customer base all it takes is a new report. So sad where is his pride in our country and those who serve.

JAMIE said...

This sounds like an angry mom, wanting to "get back" at someone.

There are 3 sides to every story...yours, theirs and the truth. My guess is we don't have the full story here.

But I will go with you, really bad timing for a firing even if it was legitimate.

I'd like to hear more of the workers history working the job. Did he have prior write ups or other legally documented problems?

We are a hire/fire at will state, but most large companies are careful when they let people go, because they don't want the bad press.

If you find out more to this story, let me know! :)

Life with Kaishon said...

When I got your email about this today I was livid. LOVED this post! : )

the Lola Letters said...

Jamie: I totally agree - there are ALWAYS two (or even more) sides to every story. My main point (and you totally hit on it) was that it was just stupid to do it when they did.

The other thing is, I know this family personally and they are AWESOME. Wendy is SO not the type to come to her son's defense if it isn't fully warranted.

But yeah, my friend at KSL picked up the story so follow KSL 5 to hear boh sides!

Heather said...

Unbelievable! Pretty *coincidental* if you ask me. Doesn't make sense does it? I will definitely be e-mailing them. And to think, we were just in there a couple days ago considering purchasing a bed for my 2 year old boy. SO glad we didn't! Ikea won out ;) Thanks for sharing this, I will try and spread the word.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there seems to be false accusations being perpetuated about the dismissal of Mr. Chris Hendry from Furniture Row Companies employment.

This issue has been investigated by the Executive Director, Idaho Committee from the office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. This is the office Mr. Hendry contacted and is responsible for reviewing potential employer discrimination cases. Furniture Row has been cleared of all charges related to these false accusations.

Furniture Row does not believe it is in the best interest of former employees to discuss issues surrounding their performance with our company.

Moving forward, Furniture Row Companies only wishes the best for Mr. Hendry and is in full support of his service and continued service to our country.

Furniture Row Companies is honored to work with reservists and veterans alike and has always welcomed military personnel into all ranks of our company. Matter of fact, the founder of Furniture Row is a former military person himself, as are many of the top level executives within the company.

Our company's strong record for honoring and employing military personnel was recognized in Mr. Hendry's report by Guard and Reserve officials.

We can only hope this additional information brings some clarity and perspective to this unfortunate situation and events.

With the deepest respect,

Bill McKendry

National Marketing Director

Furniture Row Companies

Rachel said...

So I just sent them an e-mail. I think that his firing was gone about the wrong way. It doesn't sound like someone is trying to get even, just answers as to why this was done. Bad business, just bad business.

Anonymous said...

One more fact you should all know about Furniture Row is that the company established in 2004 a very unique policy to pay any Guard and Reserve employees who are called to active duty in a combat zone their average earnings prior to their deployment over and above whatever compensation they receive for their military service while they are deployed.

Again, I hope this gives you all perspective on what type of company Furniture Row is and that they have a tremendous track record for supporting employees who are active in the military and reserves.

There were other related to Mr. Hendry's employment that caused his dismissal. As a matter of privacy and respect for him, we will not discuss nor disclose those.

Bill McKendry
National Marketing Director
Furniture Row Companies

Anonymous said...

I don't know how cool it is to post pictures of soldiers holding dead children and POW's, to represent a kid who went to his local reserve and signed a piece of paper. Sucks about the job but before we put him in the same boat as these soldiers, let's let him serve...see if he makes it past boot camp. Signing a form, and committing doesn't give you the status of a soldier quite yet...and it's a little disrespectful to the women and men who have actually served their country. Anyone can sign up. And just because you do sign doesn't give you entitlement to get fired and bitch about's what's wrong with the world. Take ownership of your actions, and stop trying to blame "the man" or big furniture companies. We're getting a little carried away...with showing real life soldiers, and tragedy, trying to compare with a furniture store firing? REALLY? The enemy here is pride and entitlement. Not Furniture Row. Being reactive is never the answer. There has been nothing proactive that this guy has done since being fired...and that will be important to learn if you want to serve this country. I love Lola. I love what Lola does for so many people. And I feel safe in being able to publish my opinion, even though they differ. It has been hard to look the last couple of days, because those pictures hold significant meaning to me, and It hurt to read on to find out them being used in reference with this story. Much love.

the Lola Letters said...

Anonymous #2 (as in, the "anonymous" directly above this comment, and NOT the corporate executive making blanket"we are really good people here at Furniture Row" statements.)

I couldn't agree more.
To be honest, I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right. "Signing on" for duty doesn't give you the same credibility as our veterans.

I put those pictures up to represent the amazing sacrifices our soldiers DO make every day. But yeah, "signing up" doesn't equate "giving service." It might LEAD to that eventaully, but TOTALLY good point. People are dishonorably discharged all the time before their boot camp period has even ended.

I have 4 different cousins who have valiantly served 2 and 3 and 4tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan all of whom are still suffering the consequences both physically and emotionally. And they love their country. And they would do it again. And they are truly heroes. And you are dead on. It isn't the same.

I still stand by my assertion that it was a really dumb thing for Furniture Row to do. But you are dead on about the pictures. And I apologize.

With love,

Ron Hendry said...

Dear Anonymous #2, I didn't get a chance to see Lola's pictures (that you disagree with) but if you would like I would be happy to send you some pictures of the two little boys that this amazing young man is willing to leave, even for 20 weeks while he trains. I know them all personally. You see I'm his Dad. And to anyone who wants to know Chris' employment history that is easy too, He does have a note in his file, 8 months ago he was late for work. That is it. As for complaining about getting fired. Chris hasn't had time to complain. He has spent the last two weeks donating plasma, moving furniture for a guy on craigslist, doing some carpentry odd-jobs, etc, etc. Chris has spent the past two week doing what-ever he can to keep food on the table. The complaining has come from his family, friends, and just good people who think that he deserved better. Thanks so much Lola for the time you spent and to everyone else who has written letters. Ron Hendry