Party City Employee Receives Outrageously Offensive Gift, and What Happened Next Will Blow Your Mind

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A Rude Shock – When Degas Sikorsi went into work Valentine’s day, he expected to get a Valentine’s gift along with the other employees. Instead, he receive a card and Valentine’s Cake that had anti-gay and homophobic writing saying (sic) “(homosexual slur) you’re not getting shifts for a reason.” Sikokrsi had been an employee at Party City in Edmonton for three years and worked there to put himself through college. When a new manager was hired in mid-December, suddenly Sikorski’s workload dropped. After New Year’s Eve, the manager did not give him any shifts.

Only when Sikorski came to work on Valentine’s day did he learn the bitter truth: he was a victim of discrimination in the worst way. Suddenly Sikorski found that the place he had felt comfortable working in was homophobic and he was no longer welcomed. He is not even sure he wants to return to work there because of the overall hostile environment and his fear of retaliation.

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He’s been called that slur before on the bus or when marching in the Gay Pride parade, but never at his workplace. He discovered that one more place that he had thought he was safe to be himself is no longer there.

Party City’s Response – Party City responded to his complaint the next day saying, “Party City does not condone this behaviour.”

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Even though they allegedly do not condone such bullying, Party City won’t apologize to Sikorski, won’t make any further comments regarding the situation, won’t disclose the parties involved in the hate speech, has not told him if they took any disciplinary action, and has not told him whether he is receiving any back pay for the time he spent thinking he was employed when the manager refused to give him work.

Party City’s employee non-discrimination policy excludes sexual orientation. Party City also refuses to answer any questions and refuses to return phone calls. The managers in the store in Edmonton refer people to Party City Media Relations line, which predictably goes to voicemail. No one has yet to call Sikorski or anyone else who has called about this matter.
Even so, Sikorski doesn’t blame all the people he worked with, nor does he paint all the Party City stores with the same brush. He loves the work and is friends with many of the people he worked with. Even so, the apparent desire to sweep this incident under the rug, Party City is not helping him resolve this issue.

Going Viral – Shelley Sikorski, Degas’ mother, was furious when she heard about her son’s treatment. A self-proclaimed “momma bear protective of her son,” she took the photos of the card and cake and posted it to Facebook. The picture went viral and on the first day was shared more than 9000 times. Unfortunately, Facebook removed the post claiming that there had been complaints. The Sikorskis don’t doubt that it was Party America and the persons involved in the hate crime that complained…

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She wrote: “Help me make this go viral. I am beyond livid… My son is Degas Sikorski works at Northside Party City..here in Edmonton.. Has been a loyal employee for 3 years while putting himself through University… new manager around Christmas… suddenly hours were cut.. Hasn’t had a shift since New Years Eve.. Finally so excited he got a shift tonight.. One of the supervisors made sweet valentines gifts for all the staff… When Degas picked his up… This is what he received … Some “unknown gutless” employee did this to Deg’s valentine… Advice how to handle this.. HR, cops… This is Definately (sic) a hate message.. And momma bear is protective of her son.. #YEG” What is particularly offensive and against Facebook’s rules remains to be seen. While Facebook has a feature that allows reporting improper content, it does not appear as though Sikorski’s mother violated Facebook’s rules for postings.

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Sikorski has since filed an incident report with Edmonton Police and the police told Sikorski that it is definitely a hate crime according to the National Post. Media coverage includes the National Post, the Huffington Post, New Now Next, and Instinct Magazine.

Not the First Time – This isn’t the first time that Party City has insulted, ignored, or mistreated minorities. One mom requested that Party City offer more gender-appropriate costumes for Halloween on Party City’s Facebook page. Instead of answering her, Party City’s response was to delete the woman’s request. This outraged feminists and others who noted Party City’s inappropriate response. Likewise, when a Native American woman objected to the stereotypical costumes on their Facebook page, they ignored her concerns, telling her that “nothing we sell is meant to be offensive.

With such a stellar track record as this, one can’t help but wonder if Party City’s management is a haven for intolerant bigots. Without adequate responses to concerns and a commitment to make changes, it is unlikely that the corporate attitude toward minorities will change any time soon. People such as Sikorski are made to feel alienated because of their sexuality and not because who they are as a person and an employee.

Hate Crimes and Edmonton – Edmonton, like any major city, has its share of hate crimes. Although on the decline (32 hate crimes in 2014 as opposed to 50 hate crimes in 2013), hate crimes still make a significant impact due to their intimidating nature. Hate crimes are tallied according to race, religion, and sexual orientation. Experts feel that the number of crimes logged may be low due to lack of reporting. While hate crimes that are race based are the most prevalent, those hate crimes aimed at a person’s sexual orientation are often the most violent.

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About The Author
With over 8,000 writing contributions, Chris is a seasoned veteran in the industry. He's written for many different companies and publications but mostly covers stories on business.
Chris earned his Masters in Journalism at Northwestern and obtained his writing certification from Stanford in 2014. Chris is a working journalist in his community. He covers local elections, law enforcement, health and wellness, and more.
A photographer as well, he brings his camera everywhere he goes and captures any moment that interests him or inspires him to write. Chris also loves to mountain bike and spend time with his cat, Buster on his days off.
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