Don’t expect bagels and coffee at the Home Depot “Breakfast Club”. According to former Home Depot employee Debra Bliss, who worked at the Depot store in Vallejo, CA, the “Breakfast Club” is really a club used against employees — and no coffee is ever served. Here’s how Debra Bliss tells the story: “The Breakfast Club is their euphemism for a punishment given to employees who work over 6 hours without clocking out for lunch. On your schedule they write in a 4-6AM schedule, and then they have the audacity to also write “Day Off”. This 4-6AM schedule is where they assign you to some menial task so that you will (hopefully) never forget again that you should not get too involved with the customer. A couple of months after being hired as a part-time kitchen designer, I received my opportunity for the Breakfast Club. Originally I had been scheduled to work 4 hours that day, but I was called in to ‘do a favor’ as there was only one other person in my department. I arrived to find that this one employee had gone off to another store to pick up products, leaving me the only person in the department. It is not unusual for the kitchen design employees to work with one customer for one or two hours. In my case, I had spent close to an hour with one customer, not realizing the time. When I was finished with the customer, I looked at my watch and realized I was over 6 hours, and I promptly clocked out. Then I waited for what I knew was inevitably to come. On Friday, January 29, 1999 I was scheduled for the ‘Breakfast Club’. I asked my department head whom I should speak to as I was not going to attend Breakfast Club. The store manager was in that day so he told me to tell her. I tried 3 times that day to speak to her, but she was unavailable. At the end of the day my assistant manager had come in, so I told him. I told him I was not attending Breakfast Club and that they could write me up or fire me. I refused to be part of a stupid punishment for a single accident that was beyond my control with the exception that I could have simply left the customer with no one available to help them. Saturday I returned to work per my regular schedule only to find that I was once AGAIN scheduled for Breakfast Club. I was shortly called into the office. Sure enough, there was a write up for me. Since I expected as much, I was not surprised until reading my write up. It said that I failed to not only show up for my scheduled time, but that I had no bothered to inform anyone. Lack of communication in that store is beyond typical, it is totally normal. I lodged my complaint that this was merely a punishment schedule, but that fell on deaf ears. The response was carefully phrased as to not acknowledge the punishment aspect. I was told that ‘it was law’ in such a poor way that it could easily be interpreted as the State requires them to punish me. The response to the fact that I did tell someone — was that it didn’t matter. I stated that I was never going to show up for any Breakfast Club, and I was told that this was just the way it was going to be and I knew what my choices were. It was easy to see that the game was going to be to continue scheduling me for something they knew I wasn’t going to show up for, and then write me up each time until I either complied to their will or had enough write-ups to where they could fire me. It wasn’t a game I wanted to play, so I stood up and removed my apron, my back belt, and asked who was going to escort me out of the building? I took a small pleasure in seeing their faces at this unbelieveable act of independence, but the real pleasure was when I walked out of the building knowing that I would never have to go back again.”
The Home Depot Breakfast Club: it sounds like third grade, doesn’t it? Here’s the final chapter to Debra’s story: “On top of that, it took Home Depot three weeks to get my last check to me.” Next time you’re in a Home Depot, ask them where their “Breakfast Club” meets — but bring your own coffee.