Saturday, July 21, 2012

Michael's Incident Update

Following the incident that happened on Thursday inside of Michael's *hiss*, my mother and I sat down and wrote out the entire incident.

We wanted to make it thorough, but not make it sound like a back and forth of verbal exchange between Gina *hiss* and ourselves. The store has cameras, and I am certain that they will show just how hostile this woman was to us. 

The following is the exact written statement that my mother and I issued to the company. We decided that the only action we want taken is for this woman to be fired. We feel that it is up to us to ensure that no other people exit the store with a lack of respect and dignity simply for being different. I will keep you all updated on the company's response. <3!

My name is Mary Ann Zacarias, and I have a complaint regarding the manager handling affairs at the Michael's located in Downey, California inside of the Downey Landing Shopping Center.

On Thursday, July 19th, 2012 at approximately 3pm, my friend, her 2 siblings (both of whom are minors) and I went shopping at Michael's. We walked through the store and were looking at various crafting tapes when a female employee approached me. She said that she received a complaint regarding my skirt, that a mother in the store had seen it and thought it was too provocative. I was then given the option to cover myself up, or to leave the store immediately.

My friends and I were in the store no more than 5 minutes at most when this claim was made, and the woman was VERY condescending to me with her choice of words and body language. But I could tell by her shirt that she worked there and I didn't want to cause a problem with my friend or upset her two siblings (both of whom are minors), so I asked what I could do. My friend had a black sweater which she lent to me to wrap around my waist and, when I turned around, the woman was gone.

My friends and I continued to walk throughout the store, but we felt VERY uncomfortable in that environment and left early. When I got home, I told my mom my story and she agreed with me. There is no set policy within ANY establishment dictating how a customer should be dressed in order to receive respect and the dignity to shop. I was wearing boots, fishnets, a black bodice, and a skirt. I am certain that the store has cameras that will prove this. There was NOTHING wrong with my outfit, but simply because I dress unconventional, I was not treated with the dignity or respect that any other shopper would have received.

My mother and I went back to the store around 6pm the same day (Thursday, July 19th, 2012). We felt that the female employee's actions and words were very demeaning and wanted to speak to the manager. We asked an employee to speak to the manager and she called for the manager from her headset. When the manager came out, I saw that she was, in fact, the very woman who condescendingly spoke to me earlier. When she approached my mother and I, she looked at me very condescendingly and stood with her side to me. Even after our earlier verbal exchange, she was ignoring me and disregarding me with her body language.

She faced my mother, introducing herself as "Gina" and asked what the problem was. My mother said that I had come earlier to the establishment and that an employee treated me rudely because of my outfit. The woman nodded and said yes, that it was she herself who spoke to me because she had a complaint regarding my outfit. A mother said we were close to her children and my outfit was too revealing. My 3 friends and I were nowhere near the children, and even if I had been, shouldn't my friends' siblings (both of whom are minors) receive the same amount of respect? Shouldn't I? My mother asked to see where it was written in the store policy that managers or employees can treat their customers with disrespect simply because of their clothes. Where is it located that there is a dress code for customers to receive dignity, and the manager shook her head. This is where the manager TRULY disrespected BOTH my mother and myself.  

Gina said that I was dressed simply to "call attention" to myself and insisted that my skirt was "too provocative". It was at this time that she ORDERED me to turn around and show my own mother my outfit. Gina insisted several times in a VERY strong, authoritative manner that I do so. I was scared by her tone of voice and didn't want her to touch me in any way, so I turned around. I was thoroughly embarrassed. NEVER before have I been so humiliated all my life, which I know is EXACTLY what Gina wanted. It was at this time that Gina shook her head, saying that I went home and changed my outfit. That I was wearing a black skirt made entirely of lace that scooped down in the back and showed off my entire back. This is impossible. I did not change my outfit, not a single sock. I was wearing the EXACT same outfit as I was wearing earlier when I visited the store, and I am absolutely positive that the store cameras will prove this. I have waist-length black hair that I always wear down around my neck and shoulders, and it covers my entire back. But she insisted to my mother that I changed and called me a liar several times to my face.

Things were getting very heated and loud in the store, and my mother and I had enough of her accusations. My mother asked for her name and the store information to file a complaint. The manager rudely said that her name was Gina, to go to Michael's online and to PLEASE file a report under her name. My mother said good, that if she was going to treat her customers like this that we will file a complaint. Gina mocked my mom and said good, that if my mom was going to allow her daughter to dress like that then I deserve it. After insulting me, my way of dressing, AND my mother's parenting skills all in one, my mother and I followed after her, asking her to repeat what she said.

I cannot explain to you the profanities this woman decided to use, but not a single time did this woman mention the parents, their children, or the need to protect the innocent- it was all a personal attack. Everything she said was aimed at attacking me on a personal level. If she was trying earlier to protect the children of the store, her coarse language in the presence of my mother and I proved otherwise. Gina insulted me, my style, my outfit, called me a whore, and said that my mom is a bad mother. I went in to the store to get supplies, not for verbal abuse.

Gina used VERY strong language that was entirely uncalled for. She was exceedingly unprofessional in her behavior, her words, and her actions. If when we had walked in, she apologized, saying that a mother had complained, that she was simply doing her job and was sorry, that would have been the end. My mother and I would have left the establishment content. But she did not. She decided to personally attack both my mother and myself, wholly disrespecting us, and created a VERY negative environment for all of the people who were shopping who had to hear her yelling profanities (children included).

This woman should be fired and replaced with a more professional employee. My friends and I will never shop at Michael's again. For an establishment that promotes creativity and the arts, I have never in my life been so humiliated simply for being an individual. Gina embarrassed myself, humiliated my family, and made my friends feel exceedingly uncomfortable, all because she did not like me personally. This was self-evident in the way she chose to personally attack me in the presence of my own mother and other shoppers of the store as well. I would like to know where in the store's policy it states how a customer should dress to shop at Michael's. Please send me a copy of this policy. I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.


Skamatics. said...

Well damn, someone has a place in hell.

Jess said...

I don't understand how people are so close minded in this day and age. You should have held hands with one of your girl friends walking out or walking back in and then rub in the claim against her a little with some homophobia. That would definetely get her fired. Unfortunately though, corporate places like this don't care about a persons individuality even when they say they do, and this lady will probably get a warning. I hope she gets fired, but with management in places like that, she may, she may not :/

Serenity said...

Hah, "indeed" on both accounts. I don't know what they'll do, but I'm sure that a "family establishment" would not that wild woman working there anymore. :P <3!