- Target has fired dozens of workers for apparent violations of an employee purchasing rule.
- Workers say they were investigated and terminated over purchases of a popular Stanley mug.
- For some individuals however, it’s not yet clear what specific rules were broken.
When Troy Logan learned he was losing his job at Target because he bought one of Stanley’s trendy insulated cups, he told Business Insider he asked HR for a copy of the policy he had apparently violated.
“I asked them for paperwork to appeal the termination decision,” he said. “I asked for the termination policy itself, the performance management, in addition to any other policy I violated. They couldn’t hand me a single thing.”
Logan told BI he had fallen afoul of Target’s 15-minute rule, which requires merchandise to be out on the sales floor and available for customers to purchase for that amount of time before employees can buy it.
In his case, someone else had canceled their online order, releasing it from hold, and Logan said he ended up buying it without knowing the cup hadn’t made its required journey.
Several Target workers mentioned the 15-minute interval in conversations with BI, and the rule is periodically discussed in the r/Target subreddit when situations like this one arise, including with PS5 consoles.
Although some workers — including a few that BI spoke to who were fired — treated the 15-minute rule as gospel, it’s not yet clear where the policy is spelled out in detail for employees to read or acknowledge. BI has requested a copy of the policy multiple times in past weeks, but Target has not responded or provided any comment on the matter.
Whether it was written or unwritten, Logan and others told BI they weren’t aware of the policy, much less the severity of the consequences for violating it.
“No one knew it was a thing,” he said. “Obviously if we knew the policy, we wouldn’t go against a policy.”
One section in a Target employee handbook obtained by BI says that workers “cannot use their status to gain an unfair advantage over guests when it comes to purchasing merchandise.”
The section prohibits “unacceptable purchase of promotional and/or high demand merchandise,” but does not go into detail about timing or merchandise handling. Additional guidelines and examples are available in a separate resource and questions should be directed toward store leadership, it says.
Akylah Martell, a former Target Starbucks team leader in Texas, told BI she was fired last May after she allowed three employees to each purchase a Stanley cup, after which she decided to buy the final one in stock. In this case, she said she was the only one to be terminated over the matter.
Martell said Target, Starbucks, or both would typically notify stores with memos and meetings leading up to the launch date of high-value or high-demand items, detailing specific handling guidance for the products. She said no such information preceded the arrival of the cups at her store ahead of her firing.
Martell said Target typically took pains to avoid firing workers. She recalled one instance in which she said it took nearly three months to complete the process to terminate one of her team members who she said had been caught stealing multiple times on camera.
Seven workers told BI they were each among several peers at their stores to be fired for purchasing the cups, though none was aware of any prior instances of Target firing an employee for violation of this rule.
At most, the disciplinary response any of them had seen was a formal warning from HR — a consequence Logan and others said they would have accepted if it meant they could return the cup and keep their jobs.
Of course, apart from a few stores in Montana, Target is an at-will employer, which means the company is not typically obligated to provide any rationale for firing an employee.
“I think it’s silly to kind of crucify someone and put them out on the street because they didn’t know of a policy,” Logan said. “I think that they should definitely make a training, at least for the whole store to acknowledge, because it seems like a lot of people didn’t know it.”
If you or someone you work with was fired from Target after purchasing a Stanley cup, please contact Dominick Reuter via email or text/call/Signal at 646-768-4750. Responses will be kept confidential, and Business Insider strongly recommends using a personal email and a nonwork device when reaching out.