Wet Seal Slammed on Social by Its Own (Now-Former) Employees

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Retailer Wet Seal is in big trouble on social media this week.

The reason? It would seem that the company has yet to master the subtle art of employee relations. Or internal messaging. Or maintaining a retail business. Or much of anything, really.

In short, the store surprised thousands of its own employees across the United States this week by letting them know that their services would no longer be needed and the stores in which they worked would be closing. As Bloomberg Businessweek and Yahoo report, the company told investors before Christmas that it would be closing more than 10 percent of its locations in the U.S. — but didn’t bother to share that information with any of the store managers, sales clerks, and hundreds of other employees who actually run its operations.

The #boycottwetseal tag has been trending on Twitter all week, and here is just one of the employee-made signs that have gone viral (image via imgur):

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The image below barely scrapes the surface of the employee outrage expressed on the company’s own Facebook posts:

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What does management have to say about it? Here’s CEO Ed Thomas’s quote from the official press release, which came out Wednesday (emphasis ours):

“This was a very difficult decision to make, but after reviewing many other options since I returned to the Company in September, our financial condition leaves us no other alternative than to close these stores. This is an extremely difficult time for the entire Wet Seal team, and we are doing everything we can to protect the interests of all of our stakeholders, including our employees. We acknowledge and sympathize with how hard these recent events have been on our employees, both those staying with the Company and especially those who are leaving the Company this week.”

The act of “protect[ing] the interests of all of our stakeholders” apparently does not include warning employees that they will be fired or talking to media outlets about the scandal. Again, from the Businessweek story:

“Wet Seal did not respond to Bloomberg Businessweek’s e-mails seeking comment; the company’s media relations telephone line appears to have been recently disabled.”

…and here’s the local news take from Amarillo, Texas:

Poor form all around.