TL;DR I don't work for the staff in the store I'm located in, but some feel that I'm not following rules they have (and that I was never informed of) so they have taken a photo of me breaking them. I think at minimum this is a toxic work environment, if not illegal. What should I do and who should I report this to if anyone? My main goal is to not have people take pictures of me (particularly ones that are intended to make it look like I'm not doing my job).

Background info: I work for a staffing agency. Call them "Staffers Ltd.". A TV manufacturer, call them "Crisp Pic" hired Staffers Ltd. to train and place product specialists at a chain of retail stores (call them Electronics Depot) to increase sales.

Staffers Ltd. is the one that hired me and the one I send invoices to and they pay me. My interaction with Electronics Depot staff is limited to, that if a customer wants to make a purchase, they need to be the ones that actually process it (e.g. take the credit card information etc.).

The other day someone ordered me to tuck in my shirt (I found the way he did it very rude). It turned out he was a manager from Electronics Depot but I did not know as he never introduced himself and his name tag didn't say his position.

A few minutes later another manager called me into the backroom to have a chat. Basically I was in trouble for some generic things such as "not being attentive enough to customers" but what really bothered me is he had a photo someone took of me drinking a pop.

If I had known there was a rule against this there would be no problem but I find this a toxic environment that instead of someone telling me there's a rule, they took a picture and sent it to their manager (who isn't even in the same company that employees me).

This may be a breach of privacy laws and a form of harassment (in a sense the store's manager was saying he had an embarrassing photo of me and I better follow his rules).

I only have a week left on this job. Though this incident does upset me, I could let it slide. If I find someone filming me again trying to make me look bad, I will take further action such as filing a privacy complaint against the store.

Aside: Apparently taking candid pictures of people looking like they're "slacking off" is common tactic of management at the store. I checked with my actual boss and he said he doesn't care if my shirt is tucked in though I plan on tucking it in from now on. Also the store manager complained in the picture I was sitting down, but I have permission from my boss to sit (as long as it doesn't affect my work).

Questions: Should I tell anyone about this or my view? Should I tell my agency this happened? Should I tell the store "you know I find this a bit harassing that someone takes a candid photo of me as evidence instead of informing me there's a rule I wasn't following". Is there a point asking my employer if I can quite early given the circumstances and still get the completion bonus? To keep a consistent image, I don't mind following rules like tucking in my shirt and no drinks etc. but I fear this is a slippery slope following directions from a person who is not my boss because in other situations the store managements directions conflict with my bosses directions (for example their seems to be a lot of disagreement as to who's job it is to setup the TVs).

  • You can always quit. Just walk out and don't come back. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 11:30
  • @PhilipKendall I have very much thought of that but 1) I would loose the completion bonus 2) the staffing agency that I got the job through I would like to remain on good terms with and they told me quitting would affect future opportunities
    – Bertelem
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 11:33
  • Right, so please edit your question to make it clear that you are allowed to quit, you are choosing not to. Possibly for good reasons, but it is a choice you are making. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 11:36
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    Needs a tl;dr. Btw where are you located?
    – Cris
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 19:02
  • 1 thing that might be useful is what actually is your role at Electronics Depot? Are you the rep that promotes Crisp Pic's products to customers ? Talking to them and convincing them to buy ? Im not quite sure what your role is.
    – GamerGypps
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 11:51

5 Answers 5


First, what you've been berated for are some very common sense items.

In short, the management didn't think there would be any NEED to tell you these things.

The best way to avoid drama is to be above reproach. Take criticism without an attitude and keep your nose clean and you shouldn't have a problem

  • 8
    You find it common sense to not be allowed drinks in the work place?
    – Bertelem
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 6:51
  • 18
    @Bertelem on a retail shop-floor, sure. That's what the break room is for. Where were you drinking the pop when you were photographed?
    – AakashM
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 8:05
  • 5
    A long time ago I worked as an operator in a mainframe shop. One specific rule was no food/drink in the control room (there a break room right next door that had a window and VT102 terminal). One of the nighttime operators thought the rule was <i>silly</i> so he would consume his drink of choice (Coke) in the main room as he was the only one there. Well, he spilled a coke on the raised floor and it leaked into a junction. Several disk arrays and the tape drives were out for several days. Cost the company big $$. He was walked out the door that day. There a reason for rules like this.
    – JazzmanJim
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 21:14
  • 2
    I still disagree with this answer. If I had express permission from my boss to do these things and the store manager isn't impressing customers yelling at employees in front of them.
    – Bertelem
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 7:46

You are not listening to the advice people are giving you because you are letting your personal feelings get in the way. People are not being hostile to you or invading your privacy, they are just trying to tell you how to do a good job. You dismiss them because you can’t turn criticism into positive changes.

If you continue not to learn for people are saying you run the risk of the agency dropping you. You are representing the television manufacturer and the store. You should stop thinking about whether you are following rules or not and think how you can be a great salesperson.

Here are some things you have done:

  • You don't dress appropriately.
  • You are not attentive to the customers.
  • You drink pop on the shop floor.
  • You complain on the internet about companies by name.

Stop doing thing these things. Stop giving people reasons to send your boss pictures of how disrespectful you are to the businesses.

You have a great opportunity to take the feedback people are giving you and learn from it. You can use the last two weeks there to practice being a great employee so that in you next job people will be talking about how much the want to have you around. You want to give people reasons to tell your boss what a good job you do and how professional you are.

  • 1
    "You are not listening to the advice people are giving you" where do you get this from?
    – Bertelem
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 5:15
  • 5
    @Bertelem The comment you just wrote.
    – Ben Mz
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 5:48
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    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're legitimately confused and not trying to be argumentative. I AM following the rules ONCE they are conveyed to me but I think it's not ok for someone who's not my boss to be giving me directions.
    – Bertelem
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 9:52
  • 1
    @Bertelem Thanks for the benefit of the doubt. My point is that you need to go way beyond simply following the rules. You need to make sure everything you do on the shop floor makes you look and act like a great sales person. If people give you directions should do it gradly if it makes you do a better job. If you do a great job you will hear complements instead.
    – Ben Mz
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 12:13
  • 2
    I get what you mean now.
    – Bertelem
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 5:37

I've had this happen in my own company, someone who is not in my chain of command tells me to do something or not do something, without going through my boss. I have found the best diplomatic way is to agree tell my boss what happened and ask him what to do. The reactions are mixed sometimes he has told me "yea just do what they said" other times he has told me to ignore it and he would take it up the org. tree. I would recommend asking your actual boss what to do, or as you stated if it isn't a big deal to you to do what they want just do it. Pick your battles, os it worth throwing a fit over? As to the photo good luck doing anything about it, you have no expectation of privacy in a public area. Means no one needs consent to record your image or voice.

  • 2
    Retail stores are actually not public areas. This is why people can be kicked out of them.
    – Bertelem
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 5:14
  • 4
    definitions.uslegal.com/p/public-place confusing public are with private property but if they don't allow the public in there sales are gonna be pretty low...
    – Scath
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 13:15

Privacy policy depends on the continent/country. Dress code as well depends on the norms, expectations, if you're dealing with customers etc. Though in your case they seem to be the customer or partner of your boss. But let's be honest, this is not your problem, do not make it into one, and dont make one for your boss. Finish the job, and get out of there. If you feel you need to, go to glassdoor or any similar site and leave a review so that people know what they are getting into, but leave it general anonymous and do it at least a few months after you've left and any money changed hands.


This sort of thing happens a bit in situations where there are two types of staff: permanent and contract agency.

When management choose to not replace permanent staff through natural atrition or otherwise and replace them with cheaper agency staff it introduces resentment from remaining permanent staff.

It develops an "us vs them" mentality.

I've seen it happen from both sides. In my experience it is rare that agency contract staff are accepted and treated the same as permanent. I'm speculating here but it is possible the behavior you experienced with the photographing would only be made towards contractors by permanents and never towards other permanents.

It's a toxic environment and it is bullying. And since it was management who introduced it I'd be surprised if they did anything about it (unless they want to get rid of the perpetrator and replace them with another contractor).

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