The 5 Worst HR Disasters Due to Poor Management

By Published on August 9, 2018

There are plenty of great human resources departments out there, but sometimes they make mistakes. Once in a while, those mistakes are big enough to garner unwanted media attention, or even a lawsuit or two. Where do these fantastic blunders originate? From the experiences listed below, you’ll see that it’s often a lack of knowledge surrounding HR practices, unethical behavior, or insensitivity to employees. These HR blunders are some of the worst offenders out there.

Paycheck Blunders

Wade Good was working for Lacoste in New York City as a sales associate when he decided to put a picture of his paycheck on his private Instagram account. Lacoste found out about the incident and promptly fired Good for supposedly sharing information that could compromise Lacoste and for discussing his salary.

The only thing wrong here? Good had done absolutely nothing wrong. Employees are well within their rights to discuss their paycheck with other employees and friends. While posting a photo of your pay stub may not be the greatest idea because it could compromise your own security (pay stubs can contain information like your SSN and address), Lacoste’s claim that their security was at stake was downright false.

No Pay for Overtime

No matter what you think fair pay might be for an employee, you’ll need to make sure you comply with your federal and state laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act states that non-exempt (or hourly) employees must be paid overtime. Lady Gaga found that out the hard way when her 24/7 on-call assistant, Jennifer O’Neil, decided to sue for the ridiculous amount of overtime she worked with no compensation.

Dishonest Deductions

This particular issue wasn’t created by the HR department but was solved by it. As the new HR director for a start-up company, David was organizing the benefits for each employee so they could be tracked and reviewed if necessary. David quickly realized something was off when he looked at deductions compared to what employees received in their paycheck each month.

After speaking with the employees and accounting department, his suspicions were confirmed. Some employees were not getting the benefits they were paying for and other employees were getting benefits they had never signed up for. Thankfully, this was easily cleared up and only affected around 20% of the company’s employees. Still, the employees were not thrilled about the mix-up.

Lapse of Management

While HR departments shouldn’t be micromanaging company employees, they should be aware of changes in productivity or strange behavior. However, this can be hard to track by HR if productivity is only assessed quarterly. As it turns out, three months was just about how long employee Gary had been living a double (job) life.

His old job, where his productivity slumped, had work hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and his secret new job was from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Perhaps you can see where this is going. Gary would sign into the old job, then go to his new job just down the road. Gary would return at the end of the day, work for the last few minutes and then clock out.

When HR found out, they immediately contacted the manager. Gary was quickly back down to one job, as he was fired immediately.

The HR department was baffled as to how this could have continued without anyone noticing for such a long period of time. The HR manager said,

Gary was fired on the spot. His manager was mortified that this had gone on undetected for so long, and HR enrolled her in some employee relations courses, and transferred her to another department.”

Not the best reflection of the HR department and management’s competence.

Open Discrimination

You may remember the Abercrombie & Fitch PR fiasco when CEO Mike Jeffries said they didn’t make clothes in larger sizes because they didn’t want “not so cool” kids to wear them. While Jeffries’ comments weren’t actually related to the HR department, those patterns of thought quickly became evident in HR hiring processes.

Abercrombie’s dress code policy, at the time, didn’t allow for hijabs, or anything on the head for that matter. Due to this policy, two Muslim women filed lawsuits against Abercrombie, citing religious discrimination. One lady was fired after she refused to work without her hijab, and the other women was openly informed that she wasn’t hired because of her attire. The press on this wasn’t good for Abercrombie.

While HR departments clearly have their work cut out for them, it’s important that HR teams are properly trained on how to handle sensitive issues properly. A Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Human Resources emphasis is an excellent way to prepare for a successful career in HR.