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Some employers ban workplace selling — even Girl Scout cookies

Surveys show most working Americans buy any and all products their co-workers' kids sell, though a Florida mom was fired this month for selling her daughter's Girl Scout cookies in the workplace.
by Paula Burkes Published: March 31, 2013

Business consultant Bill Bendure goes further, warning “allowing solicitation in the workplace opens a company to the same solicitation by labor unions. Whatever a company allows a child or the parent of a child to do, the company must allow others and outsiders to do as well,” Bendure said.

In preparing employee handbooks for organizations, human resources expert Gayla Sherry generally includes a policy regarding solicitation, and that employees should not feel coerced or obligated to buy. “The common practice is to allow employees to sell items out of the public view, such as in break or lunch rooms,” Sherry said. “Some organizations will go so far as to allow employees to sell Avon, Mary Kay cosmetics, but also in a private area away from the public,” she said.

Meanwhile, a rule shared by advertising professional Vonda Rice and marketing instructor Mallery Nagle is the kids have to do the selling. “Salesmanship is part of the lesson,” said Nagle, who teaches at the University of Central Oklahoma. “What gets all over me is when the kid is nowhere in sight.”

Accounting Principals found workplace buyers do consider affordability. One-fourth of six-figure earners buy when asked, according to the survey, compared with 28 percent of those who make $75,000 or more and 16 percent of those in the $30,000 to $50,000 salary range.

Nona Merriman, who works in injury prevention at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, said she's found the reverse; those who have the least, give the most.

“They understand the need and tend to have bigger, more sympathetic hearts, even if their pockets may be smaller,” said Merriman, who said she regularly rounds up or donates dollars at sales registers when asked. “I think this is true of most Oklahomans,” she said, “we are a very giving bunch.”

by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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