“I’m not hiring you for this job because you are black, and I know you will spend all your time shuckin’ and jivin’ instead of working.”
“I’m not hiring you for this job because you are a woman and I know you will just get pregnant and quit right after we get you trained up.”
“I’m not hiring you for a sales job because you have served in Afghanistan and I know that you won’t be good with people or know how to react to their complaints.”
Offensive, huh? You bet! That last one actually happened to SPC Kayla Reyes of the California National Guard, after she returned from her deployment and went job-hunting at her local Macy’s store.
Being a war vet myself, nothing ticks me off faster than some coddled priss who clearly demonstrates that she knows nothing about the military, judging a job applicant as somehow unfit for working around people… just because that applicant is a war veteran.
According to Reyes, once the subject of her service in Afghanistan came up in the interview, the atmosphere changed, and the interviewer point-blank told her that “I have been doing this for 15 years and know” that Reyes would not be good at the job or able to deal with irate customers. She tried instead to steer Reyes into “loss prevention,” saying, “that’s what you’re good at.” It wasn’t a matter of retail experience – Reyes had previously worked in retail before her deployment. No, the problem as stated by the interviewer was that Reyes had been “over there” in a war zone.
Wow. Just, wow. I know the interviewer’s job is to assess job candidates. Who knows, maybe Reyes really would be better working security (in fact she ended up taking a job with the Department of Corrections). The mere fact that Reyes was not offered a sales position is not what ticks me off. It is that the mere fact of her wartime experience was blatantly used as the justification for labeling her as unfit for that job.
As far as the Macy’s company goes, it does not particularly tick me off that one ignorant interviewer betrayed her very negative stereotypical view that war vets are all damaged goods and unfit for interactions with the public. In any large organization, there will be the occasional clods and mistakes. What really defines the organization is how they react to these missteps, and Macy’s gets a big FAIL. They did not respond to this at all until after the story went viral. Then they released an insipid statement about their support for veterans and insisted that Reyes was still under consideration for a job “best suited for her skills and experience.” Their damage control was missing one very critical element, however: they did nothing to either apologize to Reyes or to repudiate the insulting stereotyping that the interviewer had so crassly applied to Reyes. That’s the part I find both tone-deaf and unforgivable.
Reyes reacted wisely, I think: “A few weeks after the interview and after this story went viral, I did receive an email for a job there. I was very respectful in my response to them. I did not feel comfortable working in a store where a job was offered to me because of the way this has all turned out.”
Hooah, SPC Reyes, and good luck in your new non-Macy’s job.
As for Lila – well, Macy’s is where I got some of my own post-military job attire (how nice that they at least let us war vets shop there). Guess I won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon.
Lila has a background in national security, served over 20 years in the Army, and has seen 38 countries up close and personal. Of course, this does not prevent her from having opinions on just about anything else. Lila loves discussion and would like to hear your opinions, too!