AUBURN — An L.L. Bean spokeswoman maintained Tuesday that the outdoors company had fired "less than a handful" of workers because they had ordered leather tote bags that were mistakenly marked down on the company's website.
The Sun Journal reported Friday that an Auburn lawyer who represented several of the fired workers believed the number of employees who were terminated over the error likely was "much greater" than the company had said.
Attorney Rebecca Webber, who is researching the firings, said she thinks the company's actions might extend beyond Maine's borders.
Carolyn Beem, the company's manager for public affairs, released a written statement Tuesday, saying of the local attorney, "Her statement was flatly inaccurate."
Beem said the company's personnel policies allow for a "fair hearing process" that provides independent review of personnel actions. That process is "open to anyone that may feel they have been treated unfairly, and this case is no exception," her statement read.
"This recent incident that involved employee purchasing of an item at a drastically reduced price has raised questions about compliance with our internal policy," Beem wrote. "This has triggered a review of the adequacy of our policies governing such situations, as well as our effectiveness in communicating them. We want to make sure that our policies are clear and fully understood."
Beem didn't explain whether the company intended to reconsider the firings, given the possibility that its policies may not have been effectively communicated and therefore might not have been clear and fully understood by those workers who ordered the discounted bag.
The workers were fired last week after they were called into meetings with the company's fraud investigators. Some of the fired workers, who worked as customer service representatives, told the Sun Journal they had ordered the bags after a customer alerted them to the discount. The bags, originally priced at $169, were marked down to $19 for about two days, until the error was corrected. The fired workers said liquidations and clearances often featured items with similar discounts.