‘Let The Theft Occur’: Lululemon CEO Defends Firing Employees After Shoplifters Hit Store

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Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald is defending the company’s decision to fire two Georgia employees after shoplifters struck the Atlanta-area store they worked in, saying the two women did not follow company policy.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy that we train our educators on around engaging during a theft,” McDonald explained Friday to CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” host Sara Eisen.“In the end, 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,” he continued.

Assistant manager Jennifer Ferguson and key leader Rachel Rogers were working at the Peachtree Corners Lululemon shop when masked men wearing hoodies entered the store and took armfuls of merchandise, 11 Alive reported. Rogers caught the incident on camera. Both women can be heard vocally protesting the brazen theft in the footage. Ferguson and Rogers called the police afterwards, but were later terminated by Lululemon for failing to abide by company policy, the outlet stated. McDonald also said that the employees followed the thieves out of the store.

“It wasn’t very clear. They didn’t give specific reasoning besides just saying they have a ‘no-tolerance policy,'” Rogers told 11 Alive, a sentiment echoed by Ferguson who told the outlet she was “terminated immediately with no severance.”

“We are not supposed to get in the way. You kind of clear a path for whatever they’re going to do,” Ferguson acknowledged to 11 Alive. “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.”

McDonald explained that stand down policy is in place to keep employees and customers safe, adding that while retail theft is a problem, “It’s only merchandise.”(RELATED: Group Of Roaming Thieves Swipe $17K In Yoga Pants)

“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 told Eisen.