JCPenney told all of its salon receptionists that their positions are being eliminated on March 10. They'll be replaced with "fresh out of school" designers with cosmetology licenses.
It was all announced earlier this week in private meetings at JCPenney salons across the country.
We've spoken with several JCPenney salon employees at different stores about what happened on Monday when they were told that receptionists company-wide would be laid off. We've withheld their names per their request.
The meetings were held at around the same time at JCPenney's near-1,000 salons nationwide and everyone was asked to be present. The receptionists were asked to sit with their stylist co-workers. Once everything settled, they were split into two groups.
The receptionists, not knowing that their positions were about to be culled, were brought into the salon manager's office to hear a speech.
One salon receptionist described what her manager said:
"It was along the lines of: 'There are new and exciting things happening all over the store and beginning with the salon there is unfortunate news. Your current position has been replaced by *looks down at his paper* 'designer apprenticeship.' This means your services in the salon [are] no longer needed. We will, however, be offering you positions in the store providing you have excellent attendance and minimal tardiness. If you should choose to find employment elsewhere I will personally give you a letter of recommendation and drive you personally to the interview.'"
The meeting was "very blunt" and "to the point," she said. The receptionists were given less than six weeks to train their replacements.
The receptionist, who was crying, said that they continued to give her options, but " never once did I hear a word of severance pay or unemployment pay if we chose to go that route."
"I along with my three other coworkers [we] were shocked but I started to cry and the store manager assured us she would speak to us one by one about it," said a receptionist at a different salon. "Fortunately our store manager realizes who her hard workers are and offered each one of us another job within the store," which she accepted.
Another receptionist, though, said that she did receive a severance package totaling around $1,000 for three years of service. Several more workers told us that weren't offered a new position or severance pay, so it appears that this was done case-by-case.
Meanwhile, the stylists listened to a video message. They were told about the elimination of the receptionist position, the new policy about commissions (they once again get it for service, but not for selling retail items), and more salon details.
"I won't miss the abuse. I won't miss the favoritism. I won't miss my manager," explained a receptionist. "But I will however miss my family and my customers."
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