Sears, Roebuck & Company, an American multinational department store chain headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, has come under fire for poor employee training. Apparently, their internal Loss Prevention agents need to be trained to NOT share photos of customers on social media.
A Sears employee has tweeted images from their security footage of mother’s breastfeeding over the last month without notice. Until today. These are two of the tweets, one of a mother breastfeeding in her Ergo carrier and other sitting and breastfeeding, with his words [note - the black circles were added by me because these photos were probably not shared with the permission of their mother, not because breastfeeding should be censored]:
[Sears employee Twitter post from 7.19.2014 & 6.6.2014. Screen shots by Whittney @whittt72]
I thought for a moment, “Good for these women, breastfeeding in public, meeting their children’s needs while they’re out and about.” Then I thought about what I was really seeing, the images with the tweets. Maybe this person is being supportive of breastfeeding. Wouldn’t it be nice to give him the benefit of the doubt? His milk and donuts crack? Yea, that sounds like it could be funny, like the breast milk and Oreo’s breastfeeding ad leak. Until I saw the crying emoticon at the end of his tweet from July 19th and realized he was being sarcastic.
Regardless of being supportive or not, as you can see from the photos, it looks like this person has access to security footage and is probably sharing these photos without permission. How did that happen? According to this person’s twitter account that has now been taken down, he’s part of the security team at Sears: ”Catching thieves day by day at a sears near you.”
This isn’t the first time some jerk thought they were being funny by sharing photos of a breastfeeding moms on Twitter or trashing talking them on national TV or on the radio. It has happened a more than few times in the last couple years. Remember the blowback after Kim Kardashian, Sarah Palin, Kasey Kahne, Windy City LIVE Chicago morning show, Wendy Williams, Luenell, & Andrea Canning, David Kochie, and Miami Marlins’ Logan Morrison trash talked breastfeeding? And non-celebs do it all day long on Twitter as well, they just aren’t high profile so we don’t hear about it. The public is starting to show a really short fuse for bullying though, especially mothers and children. All for what? Eating? It’s ridiculous.
This new guy, I’m not going to post his name because he might be just under 18 as he calls himself a senior in high school on his Twitter account, messed up and took it to another level by accessing these images from his paid position in the company. We all know kids do stupid things, right? I know I did. But did I use my position at any of the companies I worked for to capture images of people and shame them on social media? No. Apparently that little alarm that should have gone off in his head telling him that wouldn’t be wise didn’t go off. He clearly realized his mistake after people started calling him out on his actions and his account has since been taken down.
Do I think this guy needs to be fired? Would it help him learn from his mistake or just let Sears make him the scapegoat for their lack of privacy and breastfeeding handling training? It’s not up to me. I wonder what the women would say that had their photos shared. Maybe he should be put on probation or moved to another department, perhaps working in the maternity/baby/breastfeeding section would help him realize why what he did was wrong. He certainly needs a serious talk from management, training on the laws and how to handle breastfeeding families, and a scolding from the women in his own family.
Unless, of course, he actually has a mental illness or has unhealthy fetish issues. Then he should be removed from his position and should seek counseling. One of the tweets shows a fully exposed nipple, right as the baby is latching on. It makes me wonder if this guy is a pervert, going over footage to watch breastfeeding mothers in slow motion.
Sears Corporate is located in Illinois. What are the breastfeeding laws in Illinois?
2011 Ill. Senate Resolution 170 recognizes the unique health, economic, and societal benefits that breastfeeding provides to babies, mothers, families and the community and resolves the state of Illinois to work to ensure that barriers to initiation and continuation of breastfeeding are removed and that a women’s right to breastfeed is upheld.
Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 740 § 137 (2004) creates the Right to Breastfeed Act. The law provides that a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.
Mothers have the right to feed their babies in Illinois and all other states in the US.
But this really isn’t just about someone harassing breastfeeding mothers behind their backs. It’s about violating their privacy. All customers who walk into stores with security cameras shouldn’t have to worry about their images appearing on social media.
How can you help?
Contact Sears corporate and request that create a breastfeeding policy and train their employees nationwide on how to learn from this breech of trust and how to handle breastfeeding families in the future. I personally hope that Edward Lampert, the CEO/Chairman of Sears Holdings Corporation, responds to this incident and publicly states how they plan to show their support for their breastfeeding customers and train all employees to never take photos of their customers. How can we be sure the people they hire for these security positions are not taking home photos of customers? Are there cameras on the LP agents or just the customers?
Sears Holdings Corporation
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179
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Contact: Sears Holdings Media Relations
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How would you feel if security officers were sharing your photos online without your knowledge? How should Sears respond? What do you think should happen to this employee?
Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter or comment below!
Sears responded on Twitter, saying they are investigating this incident. That is it. Since I have not heard back from anyone I emailed, I posted this message to their Facebook page.
Family Friendly Business has offered their services to help with their breastfeeding policy.
**Update 7.22.2014 9:30am**
Sears is now posting this comment on every post from concerned citizens regarding their privacy breech.
I received this same exact statement in my email this morning as well. I am certain everyone would still like to know if they’re going to train their employees nationwide to ensure this doesn’t happen again.