Case 36
It Was Either Some Dress or Some Stain
Background Information
Sondra Green was one of the three floor managers for Wilson’s Women’s Wear Mart,
a large retail establishment that carried an extensive inventory of women’s clothing
sold at discounted prices. Sondra had been with Wilson’s for more than four years.
She started as a part-time sales associate and was steadily promoted. As floor man-
ager, Sondra had general authority to manage displays, customer service, sales,
inventory, and the like. She shared supervisory duties with the other floor managers.
The sales associates at Wilson’s tended to be younger women, ages 25 to 30, who
were high school graduates. Presently, all of them were either single or divorced.
The associates were expected to handle any and all aspects of the operation of the
store as needed and as directed by the floor manager.
Sondra was inspecting some inventory in a display area when Betty Philips, a
sales associate, asked to talk with her. Since Sondra had little prior experience with
Betty, she was a little surprised. “Sure, let’s go over to my office,” Sondra said.
Once in the office, Betty said, “I just overheard a conversation between Sue and
Mary Jane. I think you should know about it.”
Sue and Mary Jane were two other associates in the store. Sondra knew they
sometimes hung out together after work. “Go on,” Sondra said.
“Well, I was over near the shoe department, helping a customer, when I looked
over and saw Sue and Mary Jane talking together about three aisles over.” Betty
paused. “It looked like they were angry with each other, so I kept an eye on them
while I waited on the customer.”
“What happened?” Sondra asked.
“Well, they started talking loudly to each other. Sue was really angry and was
leaning forward into Mary Jane’s face.” Betty leaned forward in her chair.
“From what I could hear, I think they were out partying the other night and Mary
Jane spilled something—I think it was some kind of food—on Sue’s dress. There
must have been a problem with it because Sue was still mad about it.”
Sondra thought for a minute. “Did any of the customers hear this?” she asked.
“I think so,” replied Betty. “I know my customer looked up and asked what was
going on.”
“Thanks for mentioning this to me,” Sondra said, thinking Betty was done. “I’ll
be sure to say something to them both.”
“Well, that’s not the end of it. There’s more.” Betty looked out the door to see if
anyone was nearby.
“They kept arguing for another minute or so. When Mary Jane started to walk
away, Sue reached over, grabbed her arm, and yanked her back. She pointed a fin-
ger in Mary Jane’s face and said something like—these aren’t the exact words but
they are close—‘Listen, you little bitch, you better make sure I get a new dress or
I’ll knock the living daylights out of you before we leave here today.’”
50 Case Studies for Management and Supervisory Training
Case 36 (continued)
Sondra leaned back in her chair.
Betty concluded, “Mary Jane pulled her arm free and just turned and walked
away. Frankly, I’m a little scared. I think there could be trouble.”
What should Sondra do to respond to this situation?

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