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Some Target workers have gotten fired after purchasing one of Stanley's wildly popular Starbucks cups

Dominick Reuter   

Some Target workers have gotten fired after purchasing one of Stanley's wildly popular Starbucks cups

Stanley's ultrapopular, limited-release Starbucks cups sold for $50 when they were briefly on sale at Target, but for some employees who bought one, the real cost is turning out to be much higher.

A Target worker, Araceli Bernal, told Business Insider she and several coworkers were fired after purchasing cups, apparently in violation of company policy.

A full-time worker just shy of her second anniversary with Target, Bernal said she bought her cup two weeks ago from a Starbucks barista before the start of her 10 a.m. Friday shift in Delaware.

The following Monday, she said her managers told her there would be an investigation into employee cup purchases, which concluded with her termination on Wednesday.

Bernal said she later realized the barista may have improperly set them aside as a favor to several coworkers who had expressed interest in the cups.

"I honestly didn't think I was going to get fired because I didn't think it was that big of a deal," she said.

Bernal's story echoes others from social-media users. They said they or people they worked with had been fired from their roles at Target after they purchased one of the trendy mugs.

Target did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.

An employee handbook obtained by BI says: "Team members cannot use their status to gain an unfair advantage over guests when it comes to purchasing merchandise."

Employees must be off the clock when making purchases, it adds, and the "unacceptable purchase of promotional and/or high demand merchandise" is prohibited.

In practical terms, merchandise must be available for guests to purchase — generally understood to be out on the sales floor for at least 15 minutes — before employees are allowed to buy the item.

It's a rule intended to ensure customers have a reasonable opportunity to buy limited-stock items, and violation is considered a fireable offense. The 15-minute rule applies to other high-profile products or deals, too, such as Black Friday pricing on PlayStation 5 consoles.

On the r/Target subreddit, several posts and comments last week described instances of one or more workers being terminated because of the rule, as well as apparently uneven interpretations of the policy by store management.

Like most retailers, Target is an at-will employer, which means the company and a given employee each reserve the right to terminate that person's employment at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all.

"Welp I got fired from Target for buying the Stanley cup while working," @PrincessSunay said on X. "Love working double my schedule constantly, not calling out, to be terminated over a cup bc I was unaware of the policy."

Some recent social-media anecdotes described attempts by employees to gain varying degrees of unfair advantage amid the frenzy surrounding the Stanley cup, including stashing the item in secret locations around the store for purchase later, diverting merchandise before it reached the sales floor, exceeding item limits, and purchasing the mug with the intent to resell it elsewhere.

"I just found out my favorite Target employee got fired over the stupid Starbucks Stanley cups so I hope you fuckers are happy," @kirks_minivan posted on X.

If you or someone you work with was fired from Target after purchasing a Stanley mug, please contact Dominick Reuter via email or text/call/Signal at 646-768-4750. Responses will be kept confidential, and Business Insider strongly recommends using a personal email and a nonwork device when reaching out.

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