29 March 2014

Service Industry Rejects Veteran Serviceman for Different Mindset From Combat Experience

Have you ever wondered why brick and mortar retailers can’t hire competent employees?  A video by a Macy’s hiring manager tells job applicants to be honest about their experience and to be show oneself as being dependable.  

This video sounds like sound advice for any applicant. Alas, following that advice  does not seem to be the case for Kayla Danielle Reyes-Abina , a 21 year old military veteran who had deployed in Afghanistan who applied for a sales associate position at Macy's in Fresno, California.

The former army specialist who served in the National Guard  posted her frustration on Instagram after her February 20th interview.  Ms. Reyes-Abina believes that the Fresno hiring manager had a dramatic attitude change after learning that she had been deployed in overseas combat zones. 

Although Ms. Reyes-Abina had prior retail experience working at Target, but the Macy’s hiring manager targeted her military experience.  The interviewer is said to have implied that since Reyes-Abina has been to war, she had a “different mindset” which would be unwelcomed on the sales floor.  The interviewer intimated: “Once a customer’s in your face, you wouldn’t know how to do it. You wouldn’t know how to react. 

Ms. Reyes-Abina recalled the hiring manager saying: 'Well I've been here 15 years, I know you wouldn't be able to do good here” The 15 year Macy’s veteran suggested that Reyes-Abina would be a better fit in “loss prevention” (i.e. security guard).  Reyes-Abina left the interview wondering if her military experience did her a disservice when applying for civilian jobs.

Betsy Nelson, Macy’s V.P. in Media Relations in the Northwest, released a statement:

Employing veterans is a priority at Macy’s, and we have proudly hired thousands to work within our stores and corporate organization. Our commitment to veterans is strong, as we recognize that veterans possess leadership skills that we find are essential in a dynamic department store environment. Ms. Reyes’ application for a position with Macy’s is, in fact, still under consideration as we continue to consider the types of retail jobs that may be available. We are actively looking for an appropriate open position that would be best suited for her skills and experience level, as we do with all prospective employees.

But as The Blaze points out, Nelson’s statement fails to address the hiring manager’s alleged comments or behavior.

While there are more veterans coming home with cases of post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) than body bags nowadays due to incredible advances in field army medicine, it seems silly to summarily reject an applicant deployed overseas for fear of how they might react to an angry department store customer. 

It is a pity that Hollywood has perpetuated a stereotype of military veterans who are mercurlial damaged goods like Rambo's rampage in First Blood (1982) or The Deer Hunter (1978).  Despite the heroics which our uniformed men and women have been performing on distant battlefields to preserve and protect our freedom, how much does the media trumpet their triumphs in Medal of Honor ceremonies?  

The 1% of our population who have served in America’s armed forces are highly motivated and disciplined.  Most joined knowing that they would likely deploy in two active combat zones.  Veterans are  45% more likely to be entrepreneurs but all are trained to be dependable and follow instructions.  In addition, those who have served in Afgahanistan and Iraq are accustomed with interacting with “customers” who are not always friendly and have different directed interests.

While there is an online petition on behalf of Ms. Reyes-Abina, it hinges on “discrimination”, which may not be illegal, unless it pertains to race, sex, creed (and sexual orientation in some jurisdictions).  But if the facts in this case are true, Macy’s should be ashamed for their bias and reconsider their practices.  Several weeks after the story became public, Macy’s emailed Reyes-Abina about a job which she respectfully declined.  It is unclear as to whether this was on the sales floor or in “loss prevention”.   Ms. Reyes-Abina has decided to accept a job with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Although it is anecdotal, I can recall being quite impressed the knowledge, motivation and level of service by salesmen who obviously have a military background.  Living in the District of Calamity (sic), there are many people who have served “overseas” and their families so these callous comments and summary dismissal makes quite an impression on them. Based on comments in the social media,  Macy’s sales clerks won’t have to wait on as many customers.

h/t: The Blaze
  Your Central Valley

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