Salesgirl wearing political info at Penneys - WTF?

I was in JC Penneys yesterday, returning something for my wife. The salesgirl was wearing a name badge on a string, and the badge was flipped over. On the formerly blank side were the (handwritten) names of the Presidential and VP candidates for one of the major parties, with further information proclaiming the salesgirl as a member of that party.

I’m trying to avoid bias by not revealing the name of the candidates or party; my question is - isn’t it stunningly inappropriate for an employee of a major company to be wearing political material while on duty? Should I mention it to Penneys?

I vote yes. Party is irrelevant here. When she’s on the clock, she doesn’t get to push a political agenda, because it implies same is endorsed by her employer.

Definitely inappropriate. If you work with the public, it is not your place to make your political views known while you’re on the clock.

I’ve worn a pin at work for ages, and haven’t had any issues with it at all. As long as she wasn’t actively pushing a non-work related political discussion then I don’t see any issue with it.

But, are you working directly with the public, for a major corporation? That’s the major surprise, to me.

I should also add that I am a government employee (Federal), and am not allowed to wear political flair while interacting with the public. In fact, if I use my own vehicle for work-related activities, I am required to cover up any political stickers during that use.

So I’m comparing her situation to my own, while also being aware that she works for a private company.

At the time, yes I was a store manage at a national chain. My other employees who were mostly younger also asked me if they could wear a pin. We didn’t have a policy on the issue so I made one up for the store. Employees could wear a small pin that had either the candidate names, or the names and official slogan ONLY. So no homemade badges, hats, shirts etc… They also knew that they were not to engage the customers in political evangelizing or it would be their ass. It is unreasonable to ask them to avoid all political discussion as it is simply too big and intriguing an issue for both them and the guests. My DSM didn’t have an issue with the policy, but made certain that I was not allowing them to pester the guests. We had both major parties represented and a few third party pins as well.

Something unobtrusive like a button (which this sounds most comparable to), I don’t see a problem at all. If she starts telling you to vote for Bill and Opus while she’s checking out your purchase, that’s a problem.

I don’t see a problem with it. Unless of course Penney’s has a policy against such.

It’s up the employer. I suspect were I in charge i’d probably say no to it, but if they’re allowed, they’re allowed.

A private company has a right to set a policy prohibiting such expression, or not to have such a policy. Where it would get ugly would be either requiring the expression of the owner’s beliefs or enforcing the policy differentially depending on what party it was. But even that is apparently legal in all but a few places: “Unfortunately, it is legal for an employer to make employment decisions on the basis of an employee’s political participation (or lack of participation), unless the employee is in a state where making employment decisions on this basis is against the law.” From here:

If you want to complain, start by asking if Penney’s has a policy about it. As a retail (largely) clothing store, I would think they probably would, since such stores tend toward really picky dress codes. If they don’t, and you support limitations on freedom of speech, or just want to take every opportunity to make life difficult for this lady who (I assume) supports the opposite candidate from you, complain that they should have such a policy.

Stunningly inappropriate, to me, would be the US government telling private business owners they have to prohibit political speech by their employees.

As a private business hoping to sell its products to both Dems, R’s and Greens, it is a bad idea to allow employees to wear political buttons, pins, t-shirts, etc. What they do on their own time is their own business of course, but I think it is inappropriate to wear a button while at work.

If the salesperson in question treats me like a customer, and rings up my purchase in a timely and efficient manner, i couldn’t give a flying fuck whether or not he or she is wearing a political pin or sticker. Same with yellow “Support the troops” ribbons or pink breast cancer ribbons.

I do, however, get annoyed at getting asked whether i want to make a donation for breast cancer every time i shop at Vons. If the store wants to donate, more power to them, but leave me the fuck alone about it.

I work retail. My company is (of course) officially endorsing McCain. Despite this, it is strongly against corporate policy to wear any political propaganda, even if it’s pro-McCain. It’s wildly inappropriate, IMHO.


Please don’t take it out on the cashier - go to the manager to complain. I have to ask people for donations to the Special Olympics, and I fucking HATE it as much as you HATE being asked. But I MUST ask, because we are monitored at random times via video camera, and if we don’t ask, we may be reprimanded, if not worse.


I never take it out on the cashier. I recognize that they’re asking because they have to. Doesn’t mean i have to like it, though.

Personally I take the opinion that unless something really bad has happened, I don’t think it’s right to rat on wage slaves to management.

I’ve never much liked the attitude a lot of people have towards people working low-wage retail or food service jobs, that these people should pretty much do their job perfectly or otherwise you’re going to complain to a manager. Given what these people are paid I expect certain bare minimums, and as long as they don’t say or do something grossly offensive I’m going to let a lot of stuff slide. Even if they do/say something really inappropriate usually I’ll just call them out on it to their face and let it drop, it takes some serious offense for me to tell someone’s boss. I don’t like to jeopardize someone’s employment lightly.

I think the OP should also ask themselves if they’d consider going to management if the clerk was wearing the other candidate’s political pin (I’m assuming that the clerk supports a different candidate than the OP) if the answer is no, then I think it’s totally illegitimate to even be bothered by it.

Yeah, I don’t seriously expect to take any action. I was more curious about people’s take on this.

I agree with those who say it doesn’t make much sense from a sales standpoint. It’s not a good idea to do something that could piss off customers, regardless of whether it is political or something else.

Not that is is remotely comparable, but this article shows what can happen when busnesses declare their political rooting interests:

I often wonder why celebrities don’t think about how they could be pissing off half their audiences when they lambast political sides they oppose. The Dixie Chicks is the only time I can think of where there was a major reaction. Of course, they came out looking like martyrs & being Lefty darlings.

To the OP- yeah, it’s inappropriate, but I wouldn’t get anyone in trouble for it.