Skip to comments.Leap to help goes to dogs; Neiman Marcus worker fired after act to aid pooches
Posted on 08/26/2005 4:49:55 AM PDT by mhking
It's too bad dogs can't talk. Especially, in this case, white poodles, which are at the center of this tale.
What's known for sure is that a longtime Neiman Marcus employee climbed onto the hood of a pricey car to assist two poodles left inside as temperatures outside hovered around 90 degrees.
Valerie Cheatham, 46, was fired two days after the incident, which was captured by Lenox Square cameras.
"I walked out the door, saw the dogs, went back into the store and got the phone number for Fulton County Animal Control and wrote down the tag number," she said. "I went out a second time and checked the doors and they were locked."
Cheatham went back inside and picked up a little paper bowl and a bottle of water.
"I'm 5-2," she said. "I took my shoes off and got on the hood."
That's when everything went to the dogs. By the time she was in a position to reach down through the sunroof, the car owner "came out and called me fat and ugly," Cheatham said. "She was just screaming."
Cheatham said Ramona Lindsey screamed for her to get off the "$80,000 car."
According to Cheatham, Lindsey also said: "I hope you're somebody because I'm going to have your job."
Lindsey, of Peachtree City, declined comment, saying twice Thursday that her attorney would contact the newspaper, but he didn't.
Neiman Marcus executive Ginger Reeder, at company headquarters in Dallas, said the luxury retailer had been flooded with e-mails from angry Atlantans who read about the incident on Web blogs run by animal lovers.
Most accused the store of firing the employee because the car owner was a "big-time spender." Whether that is true, nobody knows, Reeder said.
"We've had random e-mails from a lot of people, mostly from customers saying, 'How dare you terminate a woman for wanting to help a dog.' We thank them for their opinion. Some have been harsh," Reeder said.
Cheatham was fired two days after the Aug. 2 confrontation. Reeder, who described the employee as a "glorified secretary" for the precious gems department, said the termination did not result from the car incident alone. As a policy, Neiman Marcus only terminates employees who have had prior incidents, Reeder said. And it is against company policy to discuss what Cheatham did before, Reeder said.
Cheatham, a self-professed animal lover who has two cats and three dogs, said she had been in "a little trouble" only once.
Susan Feingold, head of the Southern Hope Humane Society, which operates Fulton County Animal Control, said conditions like those described in the Aug. 2 incident would have been "very dangerous" for dogs.
"Even if the sunroof is down and the windows cracked, the interior would be very hot within five minutes," Feingold said. "It can be fatal."
A police report, which identified Cheatham as a "precious metal assistant manager," said an officer was approached by witnesses who pointed out the dogs. Then Neiman Marcus security was contacted, and mall cops were called in. They checked on the dogs within 10 minutes, the police report said. Lenox Square officials said it was 20.
Neiman Marcus cameras recorded pictures of the incident.
The next day, a Wednesday, was Cheatham's day off. She got a call Thursday morning and was told to come in.
A human resources representative informed her he had no choice but to terminate her.
"I said, 'I'm 46, and I've never been fired before, but I'm going to go home and sleep like a baby because I didn't do anything wrong, and I hope you can do the same because those dogs were in danger.' "
Reeder said Cheatham shouldn't expect to get her job back.
"Typically we don't do that when people are terminated," she said.
If you want on the list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list...
I would boycott these clowns but I never shop there anyway. Needless-Markup indeed!
Unbelievable. This lady did the correct thing. Neiman-Marcus did not.
I'd be the first one to break a window to help out an animal that's in distress, but the sunroof was open so was there a crisis here?
Actually, yes there is still a crisis. Sunroofs and cracked windows do not really help dogs a whole lot in a car on a hot summer day. Especially with no shade, water, etc. The lady put the dogs life above her own job. The snobby lady with the fancy car got her fired for it. Neiman-Marcus is protecting their clientele - rich beyatches with money to burn on overpriced junk.
If there was no damage to the car, I see no reason for NM to do this.
My dad's friend works at NM and tells me stories about all the rich beeyatches. He also said the owner/manager goes by the "sucker born every minute" philosphy when he sells $20,000 suits and $40,000 handbags.
Tough break for the fired employee, but from a managers position, she had no role being outside of the store while on the clock. I would have simply made a call to the police, but she wanted to be Florance Nightingale(SP?) by saving the dogs in such a attention getting manner, and she brought it upon herself. BTW, losing her job at NM may be a blessing in disguise...
I'd rather call the cops on her and see her cited. I would stay around to be sure the authorities got there - if not, like you, I would break the window. You have to wonder why people like that have pets. They obviously don't give a damn about them.
Reeder, who described the employee as a "glorified secretary" for the precious gems department...
Way to go, "executive" Ginger.
As a policy, Neiman Marcus only terminates employees who have had prior incidents, Reeder said.
They are only TERMINATED if they have prior incidents. If they don't have prior incidents, are they terminated and given a bonus? Horrible writing...sloppy slang, misplaced modifiers, etc...but great job getting glorified-gossip Ginger Reeder to reveal her true colors, eh?
"If there was no damage to the car, I see no reason for NM to do this. "
If I ran into this situation and had to damage someones car to rescue dogs locked inside that were at risk of death, I would.
"If you see your enemy's ass sagging under its burden, you shall not pass by. You shall surely release it with him. (Exodus 23:5)"
My dad was General Manager of Lenox Square in the late 80s (he died unexpectedly in August of 1989). He, a Yankee by birth and upbringing, loved the South.
Okay, carry on...
For some women they are simply accessories to their outfit. The same can be said of lesbians and their adopted children.
You got that right.
" "I hope you're somebody because I'm going to have your job.""
I despise that attitude in people.
Correct answer: "Well, if you really want it, OK, but from all appearances, you really should aim for a job that's more suited to your level of incompetence."
(3, 4, 5, 6 . . . . thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal.)
Apparently the woman is a frequent shopper and drops a lot of money into that place.
During the show several people (HR managers) called in and offered her a job, so I wouldn't worry too much about the fired lady.
I am curious if they would had treated her the same way if it were a 2 year old kid in the car.
This is the response I received from Neiman Marcus...
Thank you for your email in regard to our former
employee, Valerie Cheatham. Fortunately, I can
assure you that the media account of her firing is
both inaccurate and incomplete. The safety and
well being of our associates and customers is a
priority for Neiman Marcus.
the details of any employee personnel file, but
it is not our company policy to terminate an
employee for any single incident of poor judgment
or improper behavior. In order to fulfill our promise
of superior customer service, we educate and
empower our associates throughout their careers
with Neiman Marcus.
When Ms. Cheatham called to report the dogs in
the car, she was informed that mall security had
been notified. There was no need for property
damage or for a hostile and threatening confrontation
with the car owner. In fact, upon the arrival of their
owner, the dogs jumped out of the open sunroof and
greeted her playfully. The entire incident was captured
by security cameras and carefully reviewed before any
action was taken in regard to Ms. Cheathamâs
Our in-store security staff knows exactly what to do
and who to contact in a situation such as this. You can
be assured that if animals, children or adults were
reported to be in danger in or near any of our stores,
our staff would immediately follow the proper procedures
designed to protect the safety of all involved.
We regret that Ms. Cheatham felt she had to take this
incident to the media. Our company has procedures in
place for any employee to appeal what they consider to
be a wrongful dismissal. For almost a century, the
impeccable reputation we have with our customers, our
business partners and our communities is due to the spirit,
dedication and hard work of our valued employees nationwide."
Though - the sentence about the dogs jumping out of the car and greeting the owner happily... Any dog or person would have done so once released from a hot and stuffy situation... This does not demonstrate that the dogs were ok. Instead, I would take it that the dogs were in harm and happy to be rescued... Needless to say, I won't be shopping at Neiman Marcus.
yes. sun was still shining thru the windshield and other windows, which causes unbearable heat.
the woman should have her dogs taken from her.
nieman marcus deserves to be sued for wrongful termination and lose.
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