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Iamaquestionperson

Interview for management level position; given an entry level associate position and any questions I ask I am chewed out and threatened?

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I applied for a Store Manager position in a mall retail store (qualifications are attached below in picture format from original posting). 

When the district manager in charge of hiring called, she was very excited and remarked about my qualifications (I have 2.3 years experience in management, more recently being a managing director of a start up company to help establish operations and 3 and half years of retail/customer service- including having worked as a banker for a while very recently). When I went in for my interview she was clearly taken a back when she saw me. She didn't bother to ask many questions and immediately scheduled me a 2nd interview with someone else. In the second interview I earned that she had an application packet with questions she should have been asking me, but never did. Instead I was offered a Sales associate position, which I took because it gives me something to do while I apply elsewhere. 

 

1 month in and I'm worried. I see OSHA and federal cash handling regulations being broken, and when I ask about it I'm told that this is just how things operate. Then I hear that while they're had on going interviews, they've been offering these interviewees the same position I accepted and this starts to bug me a bit as they made it sound like they had someone. Then I reflect on the policy manual and it's clearly not policy either. So I called an anonymous line to inquire about everything (excessive searches, OSHA bottle labeling vs MSDS, counterfeit handling, some questionable behaviors and my employment circumstances- I specifically asked for clarification on the qualifications for the position I originally applied to and if I could get some feedback for future applications for that position since I was now a company employee). I was assigned an investigator and reassured that I wasn't overreacting as these were very reasonable inquiries.

 

2 weeks later I receive a call not from the assigned investigator but from my district manager. She chews me out, first for "misuse of the anonymous line", then proceed to attempt to justify why my other concerns are silly (mind you- I recently worked for a bank, I am very informed on the federal cash handling procedure- especially in regards to counterfeit bills and the proper way to handle being given one). She end with "by the way, you just weren't qualified for the position. If you are going to report issues, you shouldn't have taken the job. Seems like you don't like it." 

 

Now I'm taken aback as it is policy to call the anonymous line with these concerns and we have a VERY specific "See something, say something" policy. I ask her what the qualifications were and where I could improve for future reference in regard to the position. All she said to me was "Well there's lots of qualifications. You just don't have them." and loops back to this statement every single time I ask if she could explain that further. Then says my assigned investigator is a "dear friend" of hers and she will be calling to follow up with me and to let her know that this was resolved.

 

I am an EXTREMELY by the book person. Even for entry level positions, I learn the handbook, I actively participate and try to resolve conflicts immediately. My direct managers (the keyholder and assistant manager) have told me I should be wary as the district manager has always simply fired those who ask for answers or reported things to the anonymous line instead of her. What should I do to protect myself if this is true? Is there any calls I should be making outside of the company?

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There is no legal requirement that they hire you for the position for which you interviewed, it doesn't matter how qualified you are. Sounds like they start everyone in associate roles first, then promote from within. Totally legal and not uncommon. You are welcome to reject their offer.

 

You don't mention which cash handling laws are being broken or how so it is impossible to advise you.

 

You also do not mention which OSHA violations you have encountered. While you can call the anonymous hotline, it may be better to file a complaint with OSHA if the offenses are particularly egregious.

 

Calling an anonymous hotline to ask for interview feedback and copies of job descriptions is totally inappropriate. I guarantee that is not the intended purpose. It sounds like you called and through a whole bunch of possibly very vague allegations at the investigator and asked a bunch of things that are not at all appropriate. Your management is right to be upset with you if you are abusing the hotline and use it to tattle on the store without ever trying to resolve them within first. Again, if these are serious allegations, sure, report them, but it really isn't clear what is happening you believe to be objectionable. If you have credible evidence the store is purposely passing counterfeit money, skip the hotline and report it to law enforcement. Keep in mind a bank's obligations with regard to cash handling are greatly different than your average retail store.

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1 hour ago, Iamaquestionperson said:

 1 month in and I'm worried. I see OSHA and federal cash handling regulations being broken, and when I ask about it I'm told that this is just how things operate.

 

What OHSA and federal cash handling regulations are you referring to exactly? The federal government does not impose any detailed cash handling requirements on retailers. Banks are highly regulated but most other businesses are not nearly so regulated as banks, so do not assume that what a bank may be required to do is also required of a retail operation.

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I called the hotline after posting this and inquired. To be clear- The hotline confirmed it is 100% appropriate to call them with these concerns and questions so I am unsure where you hear it is isn't. The purpose of this hotline is to handle these concerns. In fact when I told them of this response, they email HR as her actions were entirely inappropriate according to the company policy.

 

Federal law is what it is. Breaking it because it's just retail (or having no knowledge of it) isn't an excuse (especially as banking is categorized as retail just an fyi). And to be specific, the treasury.gov specifies that counterfeit money is to be turned in, or if uncomfortable with that- called in to local law enforcement to have a second opinion. As it is right now, the company just hands back the money with no explanation (which is illegal bc in the 1960s and 1970s that is how they denied those of color service, to prevent this a store should inform them that the bill fails to pass counterfeit inspection and give the customer the options of calling the police or taking it back and turning it in themselves or alternatively, not returning it at all and calling the police. The current way of handling it leaves the company open for a lawsuit for service denial and discrimination in addition to not following the federal guideline).  Coupe this lack of proper handling with excessive wallet searches and that they do not want us counting our own drawers before and even after usage (which we should be, as it is policy)- by banking standards this is a potential money laundering situation (if you can control the flow of cash (ie. only you know what amount of $ is with who) and possess in depth knowledge of whats in an employee's wallet, it is easy to set up an employee for reward cash- hence why the District managers sudden anger at it being questioned is VERY concerning). Since this company also has a VERY long history of discrimination (and losing lawsuits in regard to it), it would be very much in their interest to follow the federal guidelines.

 

It's actually really sad most retailers do not know any cash handling laws, as they do exist (money laundering laws cover most of them tbh, but they still apply. Like counting your own drawer and having it verified by another individual, Other than for hiring purposes all private information should be private- things like that are covered in law but since it's not critically applied most people allow their rights to be violated and then are surprised when they're fired). 

 

As far as OSHA goes, what I meant about "bottle labeling vs MSDS", we have bottle' who's labels are completely blacked out with marker, by OSHA reg, that is only okay if we had a MSDS available. We do not have MSDS in our retail stores. You have to either have the correct bottle labeling or a MSDS on hand- with neither being available that's a massive fine waiting to happen. Additionally, having thousands of pound in metal racking improperly hanging above employees in the backroom is both a massive fine AND potential accident waiting to occur (they literally have large metal fixings, toppled on top of each other, with other boxes containing metals on top of them. These metal pieces do fall from time to time, so fall no one's been underneath them but that's just irresponsible to not do anything about it). Between the labeling and the unsafe rackings- the two would be nearly $1million in fines, not countng that they have an improper method of disposing mop water (they require us to lift a 60-80lb bucket, no water filling method what so ever and it's open bleach containers next to regular soaps).

 

 Considering that they DO NOT start managers as associates and it's unheard of by HR (whom I called), I think it's safe to assume it is odd behavior. Denying me a proper interview is specifically prohibited by EEOC as well.

 

I am going to made the call to OSHA and the Human Rights commission- I am just trying to make sure I'm not forgetting anything and I have always found that reflecting online about these things before engaging is helpful (as I makes me have to explain in detail and consider my wording). Especially as writing the post made me realize that the "dear friend" comment is probably why the hotline guy remarked that it appears that "the investigations department may be contaminated" and why it's being escalated to corporate HR instead of being place in investogations.

 

Like I said before- I am experienced. I go out of my way to learn and remember things. These things probably wouldn't bother me if I didn't know the laws so well and the implications of ignoring them. I am not sitting here contemplating the correct actions because I don't if these are serous, I am doing this because I am VERY well aware how serious this is and have been warned of the consequences of pursuing answers and reporting. I am merely trying to make sure that should they fire me for reporting I have a concrete place to stand (as it has happened to me before and I won the lawsuit that followed. I am not scare of following the law- just the actions of those who are adamant about not following it).

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1 hour ago, Iamaquestionperson said:

It's actually really sad most retailers do not know any cash handling laws, as they do exist (money laundering laws cover most of them tbh, but they still apply. Like counting your own drawer and having it verified by another individual, Other than for hiring purposes all private information should be private- things like that are covered in law but since it's not critically applied most people allow their rights to be violated and then are surprised when they're fired).

 

There is no federal law or state law that requires a retailer to have an employee count his drawer and then have it verified by another person. It is a good practice and many retailers do it to ensure their employees don’t rip them off, but no law requires it. Similarly, there are very few “money laundering” laws that apply to most retailers beyond the currency transaction reporting (CTR) requirements. Finally, as to privacy, many Americans seem to think that far more of their information is protected by law than is truly the case. There are federal laws that protect your information held by the federal government, financial institutions, healthcare providers, and schools. But for the most part no federal law requires a retailer to keep information it has private. Nor do many states have any extensive privacy laws. Again, keeping certain information private is a prudent thing for a business to do and failing to do it might get the business sued for damages, but that is a different thing than saying there is some law or regulation that sets out privacy rules. Each business sets its own privacy policy outside of those highly regulated businesses like those I mentioned.

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Most of what you describe are not even covered by OSHA regulations, let alone illegal or likely to result in fines by OSHA. Have you ever even been part of an OSHA investigation? Fines and citations in the millions are exceedingly rare and extremely unlikely for a single retail store. We are talking less than 30 instances in the past 30 years. Nearly all of those were the result of fatalities. Your misconceptions about OSHA are too numerous to mention. Also unclear is what you did to correct these things or bring them to someone's attention before reporting it to the hotline.

 

It is really unclear what is happening with counterfeit money. Are you claiming that the store is regularly receiving counterfeit bills that they know are counterfeit? The regulations for financial institutions is absolutely different than your average retail store.

 

The person who answered the hotline may have thanked you as they want employees to use the hotline for true violations, but that doesn't mean you didn't jump the gun or that it was the best way to handle the situation. Even if internal policies were not followed, reporting violations of internal policies does not provide you any legal protections at all. It is totally up to the company how they want to handle it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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