Forever 21 Worker Fired After She Tells Her Traumatic Story

Companies usually have a tight muzzle on employees when it comes to talking to the press, and even fire workers for embarrassing them in the media. But a San Diego worker at Forever 21, the retail chain, didn't expect to lose her job when she told a local weekly her story of overcoming a life of drug addiction and childhood abuse.

In April, Cassie Briscoe appeared on the cover of the San Diego Reader, an alternative news weekly. Inside, she revealed the traumatic childhood that drove her to drugs, and how she kicked her addiction, found religion and a job, with her house arrest bracelet still on her ankle. But soon after the story came out, Briscoe says that the famously Christian-owned retailer fired her, claiming that she'd concealed her felony on her application -- which Briscoe flatly denies.

"I didn't expect this would turn around on me like this," Briscoe told San Diego station KGTV. "I only saw good things coming from it."

A Childhood Of Tragedy
When Briscoe was 11, her grandmother's husband brutally attacked her family, murdering her grandmother, stabbing her mother 27 times, and her 7-year-old brother twice, she said. Her mother abandoned her soon after, and her father committed suicide.

Briscoe was put into a group home, she told the magazine, and ran away, where she was taken in by an older couple. They gave her drugs, and forced her into prostitution while she was still a child. She ran away after a year, but drug addiction continued to haunt her. In 2012 she was busted for selling a small amount of crystal meth.

Why Forever 21 Fired Her
Briscoe, now 28, reports that she has been clean since August. In the interview with the San Diego Reader, she said that she joined a church, and is currently under house arrest, which only allows her to leave for her drug treatment and her job.

More: Ex-Convict Goes Job Hunting: The Hardest Career Turnaround

It was a moving story of redemption. But there was at least one person, Briscoe said, who wasn't impressed: Her manager at Forever 21. Even though the San Diego Reader article didn't name her employer, Brisco said that her boss made it clear that she had to go.

"Once they saw the article, they were like: We have to do whatever they had to do to get me out of the store, so they started going through my paperwork," Briscoe told KGTV.

Did She Disclose Her Felony Conviction?
She said the store told her that she was being fired because she hadn't mentioned her felony convicted on her application. But Briscoe showed the news station a job application, with her felony conviction clearly marked. Forever 21 did not respond to a request for a comment.

For April's cover story, Briscoe told the Reader that she'd even been upfront with her employer about her criminal history. "They didn't know about my ankle bracelet, but I was honest about the felony because I wanted to be honest," she said, adding that because of her admission, her hours were cut.

More: Can The Boss Fired You For Badmouthing Him On Facebook?

Now she has no job at all. That's especially hard for Briscoe, who needs all the work that she can get. She has a daughter, and the drug sales charge on her record disqualifies her from food stamps and other assistance. Briscoe told the San Diego Reader that she also owes the state around $8,000, because of court visits and probation fees.

"That was hurtful," she said of her firing.

Briscoe had reason to believe her employer would be more forgiving. The owners of Forever 21 are well-known for their Christian beliefs, and their stores sell T-shirts with slogans such as, "I want to believe / to have hope / and to love / God will guide your soul."

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That's pretty bad when they're firing her for no reason...but that's how "employment at will" works. Maybe she should talk to an attorney...

October 18 2013 at 11:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I can\'t express how thankful I am for all of your supportive comments. It has been very uplifting in my time of hardship. Thank you.
Cassie Briscoe

August 23 2013 at 7:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don\'t see anyone who gets the point from the fire\'ing...You see Folks, in San Diego many businesses rely on customers who work for Police and Fire Departmnts. The D.A.\'s office San Diego Court and the City of San Diego County.They are all people who are very, very, very against people with any kind of background actions.Most people in San Diego give up on working for businesses.Go on their own, offering their own services. Men in construction ladies into Strip Clubs ect.

August 21 2013 at 12:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

it figures i keep hearing more and more christian companies fireing those who are not christians i know i worked for one i am catholic now the company is all christian i dont' have anything against christians it's their christion ownes who pretend to be christian and hide behind when in reality they are the devil indisguise i know my boss ex boss is one

August 18 2013 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

people dont understand how hard it is being a drug addict and trying to turn your life around!!! so tired of ignorant people!!!

July 06 2013 at 8:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What happened to turning the other cheek?

June 18 2013 at 10:16 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

oh. how christ-like.

May 22 2013 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

...just one more exclusionary corporate retailer that I would never solicit anyway....hope they go down in flames!

May 22 2013 at 6:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Hypocrites! It shows that some who claim to be Christians talk a good game, but when it comes to walking the walk, they run in the other direction.

May 19 2013 at 3:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Now that's a pay it forward if I ever heard it, way to go Forever 21. Sigh....

May 19 2013 at 1:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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