Case Study 7: Ms. Winters in Walmart Stores
Ms. Winters had been taking products from Walmart stores and eating without paying for eight years. She was a maintenance worker and was caught on camera eating Oreos during an evening shift. She argues that she started by those products that were open but then turned to those in the shelves when the open products were no longer available. I think she got used to eating the products that she could not go without them.
First, she must have known that the open products are usually thrown away. She worked in the Walmart stores and thus must have had knowledge of what happens with the open products. She figured out that by eating these open products, she would not be costing Walmart any extra cost since these products will be thrown away. However, human beings have a tendency of getting used to a certain behavior. She got used to eating these products. When the open products were not available, she turned to those in the shelves.
When asked why she has been eating products, she said that she did not have any money. Her argument was that her son was had been involved in a car accident and could not work. She was thus the sole breadwinner in the family and thus could not manage to pay for products in the store. She justifies herself by arguing that the open products could have been thrown away and she had no money to pay for the items on the shelves.
Some argued that Walmart should not prosecute Ms. Winters because of her circumstances. In my view, there are some stakeholders involved in this decision. The major stakeholders include investors, customers, employees and suppliers. All these stakeholders have different interests in the company.
The investors are interested in the profits; they want Walmart to make more profits, which will in turn translate to higher dividends. They are also interested in minimizing the operation costs of the company. Given that Walmart loses $ 3 billion to employee theft, the investors must be very angry about the situation of Ms. Winters. She is contributing to a loss of $ 3 billion. There is no way the investors could support the decision of prosecuting Ms. Winters.
Customers are other stakeholders. The interest of customers includes low prices and quality of products. Ms. Winters could not manage to pay for the products since she had no money. The customers may consider her situation and consider not prosecuting her. They are not concerned about the loss made by the company.
The suppliers are interested in the getting more of their product sold in a profitable way at Walmart stores. If Walmart went bankrupt, the suppliers will lose. Suppliers want the company to continue running so that they can sell. They thus will most likely not support the idea of not prosecuting Ms. Winters.
The other stakeholders are the employees. Their main interest is job security and higher wages. Ms. Winters was one of them. She was actually earning more than most of the employees. Thus, most of the employees will understand her situation of having no money. However, other will view her behavior as compromising their job security. Some employees will argue that Ms. Winters should not be prosecuted while other will argue that she should be prosecuted.
The police reports indicate that Ms. Winters has never had any legal charges. Generally, she is a good person who has never had any quarrel with the law. In my view, she decided to take the food because she felt part of the company and thus had the right to take anything. She had worked in the company for eight years. I n addition, for the eight years, she has never been caught eating products. I wonder whether the cameras were not working for eight years. The company encouraged her behavior since security was not thorough.
For eight years, the cameras had never again caught her taking products but according to her confession, she has been eating products for eight years. She started by eating the open products but then graduated to products on the shelves. The fact that nobody asked her gave her the impression that she was not doing something wrong.
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