Skip to content

Lululemon CEO Defends Firing Employees Who Confronted Shoplifters

The company is citing its "zero-tolerance policy" for how employees are to act during a theft.

Rising retail theft has become a major concern over the last year. As a result, major retailers have taken up some stringent measures to prevent shoplifting, like locking up products and even shuttering stores in harder hit areas. But now, one popular company is coming at the issue from the other side. Lululemon recently fired some of its employees after they confronted shoplifters at one of the retailer's stores. Read on to find out why Lululemon's CEO is doubling down on this controversial decision and defending the company's choice.

READ THIS NEXT: Walgreens Store Bans Purses and Bags to Prevent Shoplifting—Will Others Follow?

Two Lululemon employees recently called the police on a group of shoplifters.


Recently, two Atlanta metro women admitted to calling the police to report a robbery while working at Lululemon in the city of Peachtree Corners. Jennifer Ferguson, who was the assistant manager at the time, told local NBC-affiliate 11Alive that the incident involved several men who had run into the store wearing masks and hoodies. "They swiped until they couldn't hold any more product and ran out the door," Ferguson said.

Rachel Rogers, who was a key leader for the Atlanta Lululemon store, told 11Alive that the location had been dealing with thefts like this for months. But unlike with past scenarios, Ferguson and Rogers decided to call authorities after this group of shoplifters hit their store. "We didn't really feel very protected or know what else to do," Rogers told the news outlet.

But Ferguson admitted that intervening in incidents like this technically goes against Lululemon's company policy. "We are not supposed to get in the way. You kind of clear path for whatever they're going to do," she said. "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."

They said they were fired as a result.

A Lululemon storefront in a shopping center

A report from the Gwinnett Police Department confirmed that the three thieves who hit the Peachtree Corner Lululemon during this incident are now facing felony robbery charges. But Ferguson and Rogers said they were fired after the incident, and both were given the same reasoning for their termination: their choice to intervene. "It wasn't very clear. They didn't give specific reasoning besides just saying they have a 'no-tolerance policy," Rogers told 11Alive. Ferguson's response was nearly the same: "They said I was terminated immediately with no severance because they have a zero-tolerance policy."

The two former employees said they feel that it wasn't fair they were fired and hope that Lululemon can change its policy to allow employees to call the police if they don't feel safe.

But considering new comments from the head of the company, this seems unlikely.

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Lululemon's CEO is now defending firing Ferguson and Rogers.

Lululemon geo interview on CNBC

Despite frustrations from the two former employees, Lululemon appears to be doubling down on its decision. In a June 2 interview on CNBC's Squawk on the Street, the company's CEO Calvin McDonald defended firing both Ferguson and Rogers after they called the police on the three shoplifters at the Peachtree City store. "We have a zero-tolerance policy that we train our educators on around engaging during a theft," McDonald said. ("Educators" is how Lululemon refers to its employees.)

But McDonald also clarified that it wasn't the fact that they called the police that got them fired. "Unfortunately, in this situations, the educators knowingly broke the policy, engaged with the thieves across multiple points, including following them out of the store…that was what resulted in the termination," he explained. "Just to be clear, our educators are able to call the police."

He said the policy is in place for the safety of its workers.

A Lululemon storefront with a customer exiting
Shutterstock / Kristi Blokhin

McDonald also defended the company's "zero-tolerance policy," making it clear that there is no plans to change it. Lululemon has these rules in place "because we put the safety of our team, of our guest, front, and center," he said. "It's only merchandise."

According to the CEO, the retailer's employees are trained to take themselves out of the situation. They are told to let the theft happen because they have technology and cameras in place that will allow them to work with local law enforcement after the theft.

"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," McDonald explained. "And the policy is to protect them. But we have to stand behind the policy to enforce it."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
Filed Under
 •  •