An Alberta woman quit her job at a Claire’s store after she was told she should not have refused to pierce a crying seven-year-old girl’s ear.
Raylene Marks posted an open letter to Facebook last weekend, asking the U.S.-based accessories and jewelry retailer to change their “right to refuse a piercing” policy after an incident the week prior at one of the stores in the Edmonton area.
The girl who came into the store with her mother “pleaded and sobbed for 30 minutes not to be pierced,” Marks wrote.
“She expressed that she didn’t want us touching her, that we were standing too close, that she was feeling uncomfortable. She made it clear she no longer wanted to get her ears pierced.”
Marks said the mother told her daughter they could leave, but that she was also pressuring the child to go through with it.
Marks told her colleague she wasn’t going to do it, and was relieved when the mother decided they would indeed go home.
The next day, she said she told her manager about it and was told she “would have had no choice but to do it.”
She said she suggested a scenario in which a mother is physically restraining the child, yelling at her to get the piercing, while the girl cries and protests.
“My manager did not hesitate to respond, ‘Yes, you do the piercing.’”
She said gave her notice that day.
Marks went on to say Claire’s policy states an employee can only refuse to perform a piercing “if it won’t be successful,” and no mention of a right to refuse if they are concerned about a child’s welfare.
“I implore you to consider changing this policy that blatantly ignores every child who vocally protests, cries, shows obvious signs of distress or is physically restrained by their alleged guardian while they sob and beg to be released,” she wrote.
A public relations firm responded on behalf of Claire’s, saying in an email the company feels Marks acted appropriately, and reiterated and clarified the policy to all staff to ensure its intent is clear.
“We are investigating the specific store instances she mentions, and will take appropriate corrective action,” the statement said. “Customer well-being is our main priority and our existing ear piercing policy ensures that if a child is distressed or resisting the procedure, Claire’s employees can refuse to continue the piercing.”