An employee at a Highlands Ranch flooring store is no longer working there after using a gay slur against a customer who was with his four-year-old son.
James Shawlin said he was “verbally assaulted” by a manager at Floor and Decor in Highlands Ranch on Friday.
On Monday, Floor and Decor issued the following statement on Facebook:
On November 25, 2016, we became aware of an unfortunate incident in one of our stores involving two customers and one of our associates. We conducted an internal investigation to determine the facts and took prompt action.
We spoke with the customer the next day and apologized for his experience in our store. We further apologize to his family and the community for what took place. Our ethics code and our employee training make clear we do not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment based on, but not limited to race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability or genetic information. The associate at issue no longer works for us, and we look forward to improving our sensitivity training for all of our employees and providing the highest level of customer service to all members of the communities that we serve.
“It’s not about me getting somebody in trouble,” Shawlin said. “I just want to make people aware of what’s going on in the community.”
On Friday, Shawlin said he and his young son stopped by the store at 1980 East County Line Road to pick up some stone slabs. Shawlin and his husband needed the stone to complete work on a fireplace at their home.
They’d made several recent trips to Floor and Decor to replace stone that appeared to have a manufacturer defect.
“The stones were broken and they were basically gluing them back together and putting them in the box and selling them,” Shawlin explained.
Shawlin said an employee at Floor and Decor gave him permission to check boxes of stone before he left the store. While he was going through the boxes, Shawlin said another employee asked him what he was doing and sent over a manager.
“The manager that came over was not too happy,” Shawlin said. “You could tell he was not in a good mood.”
Shawlin said he explained to the manager that another employee had given him permission to look through the boxes.
“I was a little firm with him, and I just told him, ‘hey, you know, my husband and I spend a lot of money here. We’ve been using you guys for ten years. We have $3,000 worth of stone.’” Shawlin said. “And [the manager] goes, ‘oh, that explains it now. The f***** that voted for Hillary.’”
Shawlin said another customer in the aisle who’d overheard the exchange expressed his support for Donald Trump. Shawlin said the same customer followed him outside and used a derogatory term.
“He basically said, ‘what are these f****** going to do to this child?’” Shawlin said.
Shawlin said he left the store with his son and called his husband in tears.
“I’m 44, I’ve been out for a while, I grew up in rural Wisconsin, I’ve heard it all,” Shawlin explained.” “But when you have a child that’s so young that doesn’t understand, it’s pretty traumatizing.”
On Friday afternoon, Shawlin posted a negative review to Floor and Decor’s Facebook page and shared the story on his own profile. Shawlin’s post had been shared hundreds of times.
Shawlin did release a statement after he spoke with the company, calling their response fantastic:
As some of you have heard, I experienced an unfortunate event on November 25. Since then, I have been in contact with management of Floor and Decor and their response has been fantastic. They are obviously a company that values diversity and inclusion and puts those values into practice. I have come to understand that this unfortunate, and unusual, incident with one of F&D’s employees is not at all reflective of the company as a whole. Nor are the additional offensive comments made by a fellow customer reflective of the company’s values. I want to thank you all for your support and thank Floor and Decor for their prompt and appropriate response to this situation.
Floor and Decor is based in Atlanta and has about 75 stores across the country.
Mickey O’Sullivan, a spokesman for Floor and Decor, said he’s been with the company for ten years and had never heard of a similar report of derogatory language used against a customer.