HR’s 10 Big Losers of 2018

This year’s HR losers include United Airlines, Google and public-sector unions.
By: | December 18, 2018 • 2 min read

We’re just a few weeks away from welcoming 2019—and, if you’re a regular reader of this column, you know what that means: It’s time to revisit the winners and losers of 2018.

As in years past, I’ve limited my selections to 10 in each category, representing a mixture of people, places and things that found themselves in either the plus or minus column during the year—though in the case of some of the organizations in the latter, they may ultimately emerge from the year just fine.

So, without further ado, here is my selection of losers …

United Airlines, for its ill-conceived and short-lived plan to replace its quarterly operational-bonus and perfect-attendance program with a lottery program whereby a select number of employees would receive cash awards and other prizes. (United, by the way, also earned a place on our 2017 list for its decision to forcibly remove a passenger who refused to give up his seat.)

Advertisement




Google, following the November walkout by thousands of employees in protest of the tech giant’s handling of sexual harassment.

Wages, which continued to only show modest increases despite a robust economy.

Public-sector unions, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling that states could not force public-sector employees who choose not to join a union to pay an “agency” or “fair-share” fee.

Target, which, after coming under fire for what critics alleged were racially biased hiring practices, agreed to pay out nearly $4 million and re-examine how it utilizes criminal-background screening.

Knorr-Bremse AG and Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp., two companies that reached a settlement with the Department of Justice in April after they were accused of engaging in no-poaching agreements.

Harvey Weinstein, the former CEO of the Weinstein Cos., who was arrested in New York in May and charged with rape and sexual abuse. (The allegations first came to light in October 2017, following the publication of Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker article.)

Advertisement




Department-store workers, who are losing jobs in the thousands as a result of downsizing at Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and others.

Starbucks, which suffered a public-relations fiasco after a manager at a Philadelphia store called the police and had two African-American men arrested and handcuffed in April. The two men, who were waiting to meet someone, requested to use the restroom without purchasing anything and had refused to leave the store. (Starbucks did successfully limit the damage through its prompt and thorough response that included a comprehensive training initiative.)

In-N-Out Burger, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to hold the restaurant chain in violation of labor law for banning its employees from wearing a small “Fight for $15” pin in support of a higher minimum wage.

Read HR’s 10 Big Winners of 2018.

David Shadovitz is editor of HRE. He is also co-chair of the HR Tech Conference and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. He can be reached at [email protected]