Forever 21 Worker Fired After She Tells Her Traumatic Story
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.
"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.
"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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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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