Resolved Freehold Raceway Mall Victoria's Secret — Management Team
I was formerly employed by Victoria's Secret at the Freehold Raceway Mall location in Freehold, NJ. After being cut in the corporate downsize at my former company, I was offered a position that the company was newly introducing for the 2008 holiday season as a stock supervisor. It sounded amazing on paper, and while the supervisor position was temporary, I was told that I would be hired on as a permanent employee and that once the holiday season was over, my responsibilities would be those of a regular sales associate. During my interview, the store manager promised me that I should be able to work close to full time hours, if not full time, and that I would be set up for success during my training. When I formally accepted the position and started work, however, I was informed that my training was to consist of a one week long crash course with one of their co-managers before I would be running shifts on my own for the holiday season.
While stressful and challenging, that wouldn't have been an insurmountable issue had the training time been effectively managed. However, during that week, the co-manager showed me how to process inventory with the rest of the stock team but handled all the stock supervisor leadership duties (for which I was expected to assume sole responsibility at the end of the week) himself. I repeatedly asked him when we would have the opportunity to go over what my leadership responsibilities would be, and he repeatedly brushed me off with a noncommittal, " I'll show you if we have time later."
When I approached the manager with my concerns about feeling improperly prepared, the co-manager who was training me became very defensive and from that point on seemed to go out of his way to create a hostile work environment for me. I went to the manager again, and she merely wrote this behavior off as her co-manager's tendencies for poor social skills and being a high stress individual in general and promised she would talk to him. I do not know whether or not that conversation ever took place, but the co-manager’s hostility continued for the entire length of my employment with the company, and my manager was unwilling to discuss the subject with me again, apparently considering the subject closed regardless of the lack of results garnered from my initial conversation with her.
Unfortunately, this kind of avoidant and unprofessional behavior seems to be par for the course with the managers in this particular store location, as evidenced by what transpired next. One day, after a particularly stressful shift, this same co-manager overheard me venting to another employee, saying that I was seriously considering giving my two weeks notice. He then apparently took it upon himself to call the manager (who was away at a conference that week) and inform her in a blatant lie that I had given him my two weeks notice.
A week later, I woke up to a confrontational voicemail message from the store manager in which she said, "I know today was your last day, but I don't appreciate you not showing up, and I need you to return your store key so I don't have to get corporate involved." I was confused by this, until I double checked the schedule I had consulted and realized I had mistakenly looked at the previous week's schedule on which I had not been scheduled to work on Saturday.
I was unable to reach the manager personally, so I left her a message in response, explaining and apologizing for this one-time mix up and letting her know that while I certainly had no problem obliging her in returning the key, I was confused by her belief that this was my last day since she had never approached me to discuss as much. I never heard back from her, and she was not at the store when I went there in person.
It was not until weeks later when I called to inquire about a puzzling letter from the NJ Division of Unemployment Insurance stating that I may be ineligible for benefits because I may have been fired for misconduct that the manager finally spoke with me personally. In that phone conversation, she claimed that I had not been fired at all, rather that she was under the impression that I had quit because her co-manager called her at the conference claiming as much. When I told her that this claim was completely false, and that the only thing I could imagine it would even be based on would be if he had been eavesdropping on my conversation with my co-worker, she merely demanded to know why I hadn't approached her myself if I was concerned that he might have interpreted it that way. I replied that there had been no concern as my original conversation had not been with the co-manager in the first place. The manager's only response to that before she all but hung up on me was, "Well, then we're just talking in circles now, and I need to go run my sales floor." Based on this conversation, I was still given no reason to believe either that I had been fired for misconduct, or that I still had a job with the company.
I believe I was treated unfairly and unprofessionally, both during my employment in this store location and later when I filed for benefits for a job that they both erroneously insisted I had quit and from which they alleged I had been fired for misconduct, not only without notifying me that I had been discharged for this reason, but also without presenting me with a written write up as per company policy which mandates that known or suspected violations of company policy be promptly reported and also states that, "For managers and supervisors, failing to use reasonable care to prevent or detect a violation or otherwise failing to demonstrate the leadership and diligence necessary to ensure compliance with Company policies."
Not only that, when a representative from unemployment called to discuss my claim, conveniently, no one from the company was available to give him a statement. When he called the store, they instructed him to call Human Resources. Human Resources then informed him he would have to speak to the manager directly. I remained on hold while he made all these calls, giving him my manager's name and finally learning that the best anyone had been able to tell him was that she was not at the store that day and he would have to call her back the following day.
Unfortunately, at this point, it is simply my word against theirs, but the behavior of the management team this store definitely gives an otherwise reputable company a bad name, and as a result of their unprofessionalism and blatant lies, I am now faced with defamation of character regarding my previously sterling professional reputation in addition to being denied any compensation during a time of economic crisis when I need it most.