Would You Pay $15 An Hour To This Employee?

I love it when a story  combines recent posts. This one evokes the issue of minimum wage hikes and people who use social media to try to rouse the ire of the web Furies while getting themselves some pop culture fame of the approximate duration—and value— of a mayfly.  If only this teen had shot a lion, it would be perfect.

17-year-old Sylva Stoel was sent home to change when she arrived to work at a J.C. Penney’s store looking like this:

Sylvia shorts

Good for the boss. That’s no way to dress for work in a retail store. But Sylva is imbued with that certitude of perfection that only spoiled and badly raised teens can model, so she quit in protest and announced her defiance to the world, tweeting a photo of her giving the finger to Penney’s…

Sylvia finger

…. with the legend,“Boss sent me home for wearing ‘too revealing’ shorts that I bought from the store I work at in the career section.”

Yes, but what career, Sylva?

Her argument, brainlessly championed by the Huffington Post, is apparently that employees should be able to wear what they sell, which will be fun for those shopping in the bathing attire section.

I’ve got news for Sylva (I also may have found her missing “i”). You know nothing about the workplace. Your idea of professional attire is pathetic. You have no skills, and setting out to webshame an employer, who generously gave you a chance to get some desperately needed experience, by quitting and flipping your boss off should, if there is any justice, make you unemployable for a good, long time.

Those who run businesses can dictate reasonable dress codes for their employees, and red hotpants are not appropriate attire for male or female workers even in hotpants stores, unless the owner decides otherwise. This twitter assault says nothing of value about dress codes or J.C. Penney, but volumes about a deluded and rude child named Sylva Stoel, whom nobody should hire again until she learns acquires humility and  manners.

22 thoughts on “Would You Pay $15 An Hour To This Employee?

  1. I, for one, am all in favor of employees having the right to wear bathing attire at work. And clubwear. And sleepwear. And lingerie.

    It is possible that I have an ulterior motive in advocating for this.

  2. Not within the dress code? Then not within the dress code.

    In Australia, while there are many stores requiring formal business suits, in more such clothing would be unremarkable. But this is the US, with different customs,

    If the dress code says wear a feather in your hair and smear mud on your tummy – you do that. Part of the conditions of employment. It only gets tricky when there are different codes for men and women, with the latter often required to spend far more time getting “made up” than the men, a very disparate impact.

    Flipping the bird at the boss – or a colleague, an underling, a vendor, or a customer – is never acceptable unless both parties are in on a joke.

    • I was about to bring out that very point about cultural differences, with that same comparison with Australia (where I am). Here, her main attire would be unexceptional, but I do see problems with her shoes. Not only do I find them aesthetically displeasing – admittedly, a matter of personal taste – but also they look unsafe for work use, even for someone serving customers in a clean shop (as well as standing around, she sometimes had to climb ladders and shift large boxes or mobile racks, and maybe clean up debris from accidents, right?).

  3. This is what happens when people, young or old, become convinced work is a right – an attitude of entitlement.

    It also reinforces my belief that social media, like alcohol, should be off-limits until a person is 21 years old. While she deserves a comeuppance for sure, 17 years old is far too tender an age for someone to have the ability to damage their future employment prospects with a juvenile act like this.

    When I think about it honestly, I fear for what I might have done at 17 with Twitter or Facebook and a cell phone. Quite possibly, but for the intervention of time, there go I. Terrifying thought.

  4. Good for JC Penney. What started as “casual Friday” has led to increasingly unprofessional attire in all workplaces. And frankly, if you look at the way Americans dressed every day — in public, anyway — even 15 years ago and contrast it to what you see on the streets now, it’s clear: we’ve become a nation of slobs.

    • Casual Fridays can be very useful if well-managed, but most businesses just manage to mess it up.

      There has been an undeniable trend toward casual attire across most business sectors at the mid-management level and below. The problem is, too often both businesses and employees get carried away with the concept.

      You may not be aware of it, but the trend is reversing itself. Businesses having “casual Fridays” have dropped from a high of 53% in the early years of this millennium to around 34% in 2010.

  5. I agree with all your points but I don’t think you should be taking a 17 year to task for this type of behavior on line.
    Its beneath you .She is after all just a kid.
    Would you want all the stupid decisions you made at 17 on line?
    Or your sons?

    • Bullshit! Jack is dead-on. Somwhere, there are a pair of adults who taught this little imp that she has no need to respect other adults, or rules. She’s obviously been a little adult since she was about knee-high, so why should she be shielded from the consequences of deviating from acceptable adult behavior? This is an epidemic among children these days.

      • This is rare; I disagree with you here, Joe, and agree with The Bill on his point. I would make the magic number 18, for the age of presumed adulthood. But then, it’s Jack’s blog, he makes the rules, and I am grateful to him for his posts on young Sydney Spies (but, I do believe she was already 18 when he posted about her, although she was still only recently graduated from high school).

        This is a case of a young lady who I would presume is a dependent minor, with parents or guardians for whom I would maintain a certain Golden Rule level of presumed respectability and deference – even if I had an abundance of evidence to be assured that her parents have utterly failed to raise her such that she would reflect common sense in her acting-out.

        Jack is right, yes; you are right, yes; young people in large numbers seem to have no good sense, no respect for adults or for rudimentary rules. But I still don’t think Jack should have called out this young one; it smacks to me of some rationalization – what number in Jack’s list, I don’t immediately have – that it’s OK to pile-on the public media storm, even if she did precipitate much of it upon herself.

        • Didn’t she precipitate all of it herself? If she has a Twitter account and uses it to attack and insult others, why should she be shielded from responsibility? Because she can’t vote or buy liquor?

          • Yes she did and yes she does but you should still take the higher ground . Responsibility and being publically shamed for it are too different things.

          • I guess I am distinguishing between voluntary non-proliferation of information about a minor’s foolishness, and any appearance of shielding a minor from responsibility for that foolishness.

            I read ahead, about your Tit-for-Tat exception; I do not think that applies, or should apply, to this young woman – even if, by chance, it so happened to turn out to be effective (and bait for embracing consequentialism). I was not trying to say that she should be shielded from responsibility. I was only critiquing one level or instance of exploitation of one method for enabling her to realize (if she can or will) what responsibility she owns.

  6. The girl needs a mentor, to rebuild her life, from this point – if there is one such mentor, whom she (and her parents) can trust, and who will put up with her (if she could/would be so humble as to submit herself to him or her), for as long as she would need such a mentor.

    Me, I’d just like to spank her.* In hope that she might like it.
    *(with or without hotpants on where they belong)

  7. Sadly, customers don’t expect much better. I’ve worn denim shorts and a t-shirt, and STILL have been confused for a clerk…

    • I always enjoy visiting my wife after Church on Sundays that she has to work the hospital. I get very many requests for advice or assistance with patients or outright solutions to medical issues. I guess the suit helps out.

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