An Open Letter to CVS Pharmacy CEO Larry J. Merlo

Subject: An Open Letter to CVS Pharmacy CEO Larry J. Merlo
Date: 12 Oct 2019
cvs Pharmacy

When I took a job with CVS Pharmacy, at first, I was just looking for a way out of a job where supervisors were horrible at their jobs and being a subordinate, my job was to just take it. Nothing ever really gets done to management, right? Little did I know that this wasn’t a fluke. Little did I know that no matter where you go, managers were always going to be the worst part of the job. I think this is mainly due to it being harder to find qualified people to fill positions like store or district managers. So, big corporations like CVS Pharmacy look to protect them more than caring for the little people who are actually doing most of the work. For a while I thought I had a home with CVS but that was not the case.

I started working for CVS in 2016. At first, I was bored. It was a slow store and it was the first time I had to deal with extreme couponers. There were more buttons than the simple registers of my former employer. But after a few weeks I got the hang of it and it quickly became the job I could do every single day and be content. A few months into my cashiering job I was promoted to shift supervisor, a role I would spend the next 3 years in. I had a great manager. He was kind and always tried to be fair. He understood that if you take care of your employees then they take care of you. And he really did take care of us. It is why when he wanted to be there for his five year old daughter on her first day of school, I offered to unload a truck I had never unloaded before so he could do that. It is why I always volunteered to work holidays. He had a family and I did not. He gave us extra weekends off and extra days off during the week while still letting us get our desired hours in a shorter time span. He took care of us and we took care of him. He even let me get overtime as much as he could. I got paid the least of all the management staff there so I was grateful for that.

Eventually he moved on in favor of better than retail hours and nights and weekends at home with his family and was replaced by a manager who talked a big game on the phone. When I met this man, let’s call him John, my gut turned over and I knew it then. I knew he talked a big game on the phone so we wouldn’t know just what we were getting until after he took over the store. Every inch of me said to leave and find another job but I didn’t. I stayed hoping I was wrong. But when John said to me, “I just want you to know that I don’t work holidays,” I knew that I wasn’t wrong. He was going to be selfish and narcissistic.

John started off easing into changing the way we did things in a small community store where we knew our customers by name. It was a family we had built with customers and John was trying to run the store like a big, fast paced store and customers were not happy. They kept asking us who the new guy was and where was our old manager. We saw just how unhappy our customers became when our sales and customer count number dropped dramatically. John’s first inventory went badly as well. The store had been open for a decade and in those years had never been considered a red level store. There are three levels: green, yellow and red. You can imagine green being the best and red being the worst. The store had always been green. This was the first time the store had ever been a red level store. The next year, the employees saw the results of his reign of terror when our hours were cut because of the poor performance of the store under his leadership the previous year.

But how John ran the store isn’t why this is being written. It is how John treated his employees that troubled me most. He insulted us and even called us names. He once called me a witch. Whenever he did this to people and they clearly got upset, he would laugh and then say he was just kidding. He eventually concluded that he should stop because people didn’t get his sense of humor. He "joked" that my new boyfriend must not know the real me implying that if he did he wouldn't be dating me. John even said to tell my boyfriend to come talk to him so he could know who the real me was. That goes back to the witch comment.
He told me that my Facebook profile picture looked so good it could be a magazine cover. He even “joked” about spanking another female employee with his belt. He was reported for sexual harassment but was not fired.

John brought his teenage son to work and had him working in the stock room even though he does not work for CVS nor has he ever worked for CVS. His son was even in restricted areas or employee only areas of the store. John inflated inventory by having another shift supervisor scan out of date candy out of the inventory and then resold it so that he could increase sales on inventory that we didn’t actually have. These offenses were reported but John was not fired.

John altered employees’ hours that would have resulted in a reduction of pay of other employees. It was reported, John was forced to reconcile the situation but he was not fired.

John got into an argument with a full time cashier and reduced her hours in retaliation. He then allowed another employee from another CVS to transfer to his store to replace the cashier promising her the now available hours. This was also reported, John was forced to give the cashier her hours back. This resulted in the store having an employee that the store didn’t have hours for. He cut a part time cashier’s hours to give to the new cashier which resulted in the final nail in the coffin response from that part time cashier. She quit. John was not fired.

John would often tell one shift supervisor one thing and then tell the other one a different thing and sat back and watched them argue with each other. This was also reported. He was not fired.
John slept in the office and didn’t help with much of anything else. He would barely help put out the truck after unloading it. These offenses were also reported but John was not fired.

Now, let’s talk about the final offense that led to me leaving in the middle of my shift and not returning after three years. I asked him months in advanced about scheduling my vacation hours. He verbally okayed those days and continued to do so throughout the summer. I was out on FMLA and a few days before my return to work he denied those days in the system. After countless, “Yes, those days are fine,” from him I already made vacation plans. My vacation was supposed to take place just 8 days after he denied it. When I asked him why my vacation got denied after he kept telling me it was okay he said that his was pushed back so everyone else’s got pushed back too. I understood that but that was not completely true. I told him that my vacation wasn’t pushed back it had been denied altogether. He said he was giving the other shift a vacation after him. I informed him that I put in for mine months before her and he had already been telling me for months that those dates were mine and they were okay. It was his next words that pushed me into my final decision to walk out. He said that he wasn’t going to give me a vacation because I had taken FMLA. Let’s back up. My FMLA was for a workplace injury that limited my ability to perform my job in which I received worker’s compensation for. So, John was now using my workplace injury as a weapon against me. His decision to deny my vacation after previously telling me it was okay was completely out of retaliation. I did not report it because John would not be fired.

That was my last day at CVS Pharmacy.

Yes, John did many other things to me but I think you get it.
John said a lot of things about me that was only half truths or mostly false in order to seem like an innocent victim in the chaos he either created or allowed to be created in his store. Which leads me to this…

I had a personal conversation with the District Leader about his conduct in the store but she had her mind made up about John before my conversation with her. There wasn’t a thing in the world that I could say to her to make her see that something was very, very wrong with this store having John as a leader. I already suspected her of telling him things that were reported because of John’s reaction to certain employees after some of her visits to the store. When I reported that he was seen sleeping on the security camera she came to the store. After she left, he removed the computer mouse from the monitor and hid it behind some boxes on the floor under the desk (yes, John, I knew where you hid it this entire time). She had to have told him that information in order for him to suddenly hide the mouse in an effort to deny us access to the security camera.

Employees run stores. They talk to your customers. They make them happy when they’re angry. They correct the mistakes. They get yelled at and cursed out regardless of who is wrong. They set your displays. They put out trucks. They check in vendors. They answer your phones. Your employees build your companies. CVS please do me a favor and take care of us. We take care of you for a far lesser paycheck. Without us, you’d have to get out here and work in ways you probably haven’t in years. Without your shift supervisors and cashiers you wouldn’t have a company. All you would have is managers and district leaders who abuse their power. Remember what my first manager taught me? Treat your employees well and they will return the favor.


Someone Who Will Never Work For You Again