Ben and jerrys, the worlds most equal rights believing company.
This is especially true towards the very original shop in Burlington VT, where is where I worked.
And I was fired for not being able to afford a car, calling in on a day they knew I couldn’t work, for depression, and for the clothes I wore. Here’s my story.
I started working at Ben and Jerry’s in very late August 2021, where I learned that I’ll get paid $250 every Friday for just scooping ice cream. How exciting right?
I lived in a small house with 3 others. My boyfriend, his aunt, and our roommate. We were below middle class, and struggling financially. All of us had a job and we all still struggled with bills and rent and food.
During my interview, i mentioned that since I can’t afford a car and live 20 mins away, I can’t work sundays due to the public transport not running those days. They were perfectly fine with it. They even were nice enough to give me 5-10 minutes grace time since I have to not only take a bus for 20 minutes, but to also walk from the station to work 5 minutes away. I rarely was late for work, and when I was, it was only by 5-10 minutes.
I was one of their best employees, but then again it wasn’t hard to be a good employee when you’re extremely short staffed. I was eager, kind, interactive, and loved doing my job. I was reliable, and I’d happily take over for someone who can’t show up that day even on my day off. Over time, after months and months of working there, my depression hit me hard one week. I called in once for a mental health day (which helped me a lot by the way. I only call in when I know we are extra staffed that day), and I showed up late to work twice (within 5-10 minutes however, before the store even opened). But that’s all. I tried my hardest to keep work as a priority while being depressed despite it causing insomnia. After all, why would the most accepting company fire someone for public transport being late and for having depression? Besides just being extremely short staffed, they surly wouldn’t fire me for one bad week due to severe depression that I told them about, right?
Luckily, I started to get back on track and had myself under control. I was ready and eager for the new week to come. The new schedule came out (every 3-4 months, availability on the schedule resets so you have to reset your availability on the schedule)
The schedule came out while I was asleep Saturday night, and woke up to it on Sunday morning. I look at it and see I’m scheduled for Sunday. But that doesn’t make sense? I told them I was unavailable ALWAYS for Sunday? Maybe they forgot. So I texted my manager something along the lines of “hey, I can’t make it into work today because i can’t work on Sundays. The buses aren’t running and I don’t have money for an Uber because I freshly paid my rent”. I thought it was no big deal, no text back however. About half an hour later I got When I Work (app that has the schedule) notifications saying “Monday 1:45-9 canceled” “Wednesday 12pm-5pm canceled” “Thursday 1:45-9 canceled” “Saturday 2pm-11pm canceled”
I was so confused. Perhaps they were resetting my schedule.
A few mins later my manager texts me saying he’s “ending my assignment with Ben and Jerry’s” because I was “unreliable”, and “was lacking the last couple of days” and “scaring away customers”.(I’m emo and have been since 2012, the dress code there is wear what you want as long as you have a work hat and shirt. So I’d wear my spiked choker, heavy black makeup, and sometimes I’d wear belt chains and platform boots.) but, I don’t know how I was scaring away customers when I’m extremely kind, interactive, and helpful towards customers. A month after I started working there I noticed more alt people coming in to get ice cream just so they can get served by an alt employee (me. Since I was the only alt person there) and I even had parents tell me “we had to come here again, my kids kept begging to come see you and your cool spikes again.” Hell, I even had someone take a picture with me because they thought I looked cool!
As for being “unreliable” that’s simply not true, they KNEW I can’t work Sundays and put me on that day anyways. And one slightly bad week due to literal mental illness that you’re trying to get therapy for is definitely not an excuse to fire someone while your store is short staffed, especially since I was very good for the last couple MONTHS. After I (respectfully) tried to defend myself from getting fired and tried to let them give me another chance (mainly because I NEEDED money and loved my job), they stopped replying to me after their “you’re fired” text and Infact even blocked me like a petty child. Because I know my second text after my defense text didn’t say delievered.
I was fired back in early January, and I spent almost every day trying to search for a job thats either walking distance or downtown where the bus station is. Nothing. All of the jobs that were in my skill range were in other cities that I didn’t have access to. All of the jobs around either never got back to my application, denied my application, or was completely out of my skill set. 2 months later, I’ve been unable to pay rent twice. My boyfriend was getting upset with me that I didn’t have a job. And his aunt started to hate me for not being able to pay rent. Because I lost my job, we havnt been able to afford a lot of food. I had to give up my health Insurance, I began to eat cheap processed junk food for my “one meal a day”. I became unhealthy and underweight. I was stressed and my depression was out of control because I couldn’t pay rent, which was causing my household members to suffer alongside me, my boyfriend was upset with me and I was physically suffering. My boyfriend kicked me out of the house because I couldn’t pay rent. I moved back in with my parents who are extremely toxic and emotionally abusive.
All because the managers at Ben and Jerry’s fired me for being: too poor to afford a car, having mental illness, and being emo. Despite being short staffed.
So much for “equality for all” from the good ol hippy ice cream shop. That damned ice cream shop costed my old household members to suffer financially MORE than we already were, lost me my relationship, and caused me to move back in with parents who constantly make me feel like a failure. All because I showed up late a few times one week when they said it was okay for me to, because I called in on a day they knew I couldn’t work, and because I’m unique and bring diversity to the shop with my looks. (And if anything, I brought in MORE customers).