HR Departments can be extremely helpful, but at other times they will do anything possible to deny anybody of their fair share. These are the sketchiest instances of HR foul play.
Toxic work environment. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
It Doesn’t Work Itself Out
“I was a young intern, working the IT help desk for a quickly growing technology company. I was hired with a group of 3 others. 6 months into the job, HR said that if the Interns were working full-time (35 hrs a week) they would be eligible for the company bonus system and we were having a VERY good year. You had to work for the company for at least 90 days to receive a bonus.
So…6 months in, we the ‘interns’ could get a bonus. The next week, a full-time position opened up and I applied and was hired out of the internship program. I was still working the same role, just as a full-time employee. When the bonus payments went out, all my peers got one but me. I questioned HR. I was told I had only been a full-time employee for about 3 weeks at the time of bonus calculation and wasn’t eligible. We argued about previously being an intern and I explained that my intern peers all got the bonus.
The person in HR that calculated the bonuses said ‘Hmm, I’ll check into this for you but sometimes these things work themselves out’. That was his response for the next 7 weeks. I patiently asked him about it each week: ‘Shawn, I’m just checking in to see what you were able to do about that bi-annual bonus I should have received’. Shawn would reply ‘Hmm, I’ll check into this for you but sometimes these things work themselves out.’
I got sick of hearing that response. Shawn came into the office about an hour early every day. The next day, I came about 90 minutes early, disabled his domain account and told the new intern that I’d take his spot answering calls on the help desk. Of course, Shawn called in and I answered the phone politely but acting surprised that his account didn’t work. He explained he received an error that his ‘account had been disabled’. Of course I told him ‘Wow, that’s really strange. Hmm, I wonder what could be wrong? Hey, while I have you on the phone, were you ever able to sort out what happened with that bonus I should have received?’.
The phone was silent long enough I wondered if Shawn was still there. I imagine his face turning red, while his fingernails dug into the finish on his nice wooden desk, while looking down on us from the 8th floor. He replied ‘No……I’ve not gotten that taken care of yet’. I said ‘Well, I’ll check into this but sometimes these things work themselves out. Give me a bit of time and I’ll give you a call back.’. It was about 30 minutes later that Shawn called me back to say ‘Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I got that bonus thing taken care of. You’ll see it on your next check’. I actually was surprised this time. I told him that I had meant to give him a call a few minutes earlier because I had found out what was wrong with his account and that it should be working now.
Don’t mess with the I.T. guys.”
The Ultimate Bluff
“I worked at a grocery store when I was a teenager. Human Resources was called in to interview the employees about a theft problem.
Before my interview, I saw a co-worker cleaning out his locker. ‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘Dude, they got us. They had cameras filming everything we did,’ he said. ‘I just got fired for eating grapes that fell off the vine.’
My turn came and the HR guy said, ‘You need to confess to everything you have stolen here. Put a dollar amount on the stolen goods and we will set up a payment plan for restitution and avoid your being arrested.’
‘I have never stolen,’ I said.
‘Okay, I am going to give you one more chance. If you are honest, we won’t get the police involved. If you are lying, things are not going to go well,’ he said. ‘Be advised we have video.’
‘I have never stolen anything,’ I said.
‘Call the police,’ he said to the manager. ‘We are going to have to press charges.’
‘You are full of it,’ I said. ‘You have nothing.’
‘Do you want to see the video?’ He asked.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘It doesn’t exist.’
‘What makes you say that?’ He said. ‘You seem very confident for someone about to go to jail.’
‘I haven’t stolen anything,’ I said. ‘If you had a video of people stealing, you wouldn’t need a confession.’
I think seven people confessed and were fired that day. My friend that ate the grapes put $7 on the amount he had stolen. He was one of the most honest people I worked with.
The ones eating steak cooked on the heat seal of the meat wrapper never confessed to anything. They did not catch the thieves they were looking for either.
The people that confessed were the honest ones who felt guilty for their petty thefts while the dishonest ones stuck to their morals and confessed to nothing. Brilliant move by HR.”
Just Let Me Talk To Someone
“I have recently witnessed a lifetime lesson for trusting managers and HR.
I joined this company in 2016. They offered me much less salary, but promised me that they will review my salary every 3 months for a year. Also, it’s just a probationary period (first 3 months). They promised that after one year, they will pay industry standard salary. They asked me to sign a service agreement for 3 years with and submit my original documents and cheques while joining. I was hesitant to join such company but as my other friends accepted their offer, I too joined with them. (I came to South India for the first time). I refused to submit my documents, but gave cheques. It was a service company and as I had around 2 years working experience, I was immediately sent to a MNC in Hyderabad.
As a norm, employers should take care of relocation cost incurred for their employees. But my employer refused for the same.
After 3 months, when I approached HR regarding the pay hike that was promised, HR told me to request to manager for the same. So I had requested the same to manager, to which he refused to give hike. I contacted HR again and told all scenarios under which I accepted their offer. At the end of the 5th month and after wasting many hours of telephone discussions, they accepted the hike. It was effective from my 6th month salary, and to get previous month arrears, I had to again follow same thing again. Same problem faced at the end of next scheduled hike too. For a third hike, they simply refused. Later, I thought that any way I could get the industry standard salary at the end of year, so I left the topic.
When my first year completed, they offered a mere 5000 dollar hike to me and started calling my salary as a standard. Just because of a signed bond, I kept working with them. Many times I had had 1+ hour discussions with manager, who would tell me the way he was paid when started working, how he used to walk to save money and how he bought mobile after 5 years of savings.
I was very much irritated with the situation. In fact, the client I was working with had a big project lined up and I had to work a lot (many times day-night work due to delivery dates).
I needed some money urgently so applied for a loan. For getting a loan, I needed to provide salary slips. When requested for the same to my employer, they refused to give me my salary slip too. They said that the company will not give salary slips for next three months because it is decided by management.
One other regular day, I was seriously injured in my office. I immediately went to the hospital and had treatment. It costed me around 15000. Strong dosages of antibiotics caused a sudden weight loss as well as other health issues too. I claimed this amount to my employer to which they simply refused. They said that they won’t refund since I am at a client location. Later I came to learn that they didn’t even have any insurance for employees.
I was done working with this awful company and decided to move out of it. When I discussed with HR about this, HR asked me to talk to the manager. The manager gave me a date to discuss after 15 days because he was very busy. After 15 days, he again asked me to call later because he was busy. It was like this for 2 months. After 2 months, when I started calling daily, the manager answered my call. He listened to the problems and asked me to resign if I don’t like to work with their policies.
I was very disappointed and immediately sent him a resignation letter. I informed them that I will serve my 3 month notice period as promised. When serving the notice period, I requested many times for them to inform the same to client I am working with.
At the end of the notice period, when I told them that this is my last working day, they started saying that my resignation was never accepted. I was dumbstruck. I was not in a position to listen to this garbage, so I decided to leave the company on my previously reported last date.
I got a call from manager that night and he threatened me against my cheques, how he can put me in jail, how he will destroy my career and all that garbage. He requested me to work for 2 years and then I can leave legally. As I had no trust remaining in them, I asked them to send me the same in emails. He refused to do so. Still I thought he might be busy and I worked for 15 more days waiting for any confirmation from their side. But there was none. I was ready to work for 2 years but not with any written mail.
Finally I stopped going to work and I told them to do whatever they want. Later, HR called me again and asked me to rejoin the company otherwise legal action would be taken. I didn’t buzz to those threats. He asked me to come to the Bangalore office and have a discussion with management. When I went there, HR started asking me why I discussed this all with the manager, because it was not Managers work. It belongs to the HR team and I should have contacted them. (I showed him his own mail asking me to talk to the manager regarding this issue, but he had no answer to it). Immediately after a few hours, my company email ID was disabled. Thank god, I already took backup of all my emails and conversations.
I almost travelled 24 hours by train to meet with management, but HR told me that they were busy and I have to talk to HR. When I protested and told him that I will wait in the office for management, he simply refused and even told me to wait outside office because I am not an employee of their organization.
There are so many other things too where I have been refused for basic rights.
Still I have not received any experience or relieving letters. I am waiting for them to file a case against me, because I kept all my emails and call recordings ready for them.
When you get such an employer in the beginning of your career, you really lose faith in jobs and it becomes very hard to trust upon any employer.”
Gotta Keep Your Eye On Them
“This is technically at my last job, but it illustrates why I decided to end my relationship with them.
The company was becoming quite the nightmare. It was a Union company and being that I was manager meant that I would regularly get my butt chewed on by the Union Stewards and The Union VP when something beyond my control messed with the Union associates. Then when the Union was finished having their fun at my expense, HR would call to yell at me some more. It was a constant back and forth, mostly stuff I couldn’t control anyway.
I watched my fellow Managers get put on the Hit List. Once you cross the wrong people, usually inadvertently, your days are pretty much numbered. I got to the point where one day I said, ‘I’m not playing anymore and I’m taking my toys home with me.’
I found a better job and gave my two weeks notice.
I was at my new job when I received my last paycheck and I expected to receive payment for the 4 weeks of vacation I had saved up when I left, only I didn’t.
Furious, I called the old HR number and inquired calmly why I didn’t receive the 4 weeks vacation reimbursement. They told me that I didn’t serve out my two weeks notice. I said I did and they said, ‘No, it says here that you left early one night.’
I had forgotten all about it and then I remembered one night during the two weeks my wife called me at work to say that the house had no heat. It was an hour before I was to clock out but it was a 0ºF out and we had two small children. I followed proper procedure and got clearance to go home early from higher management.
Yep, higher management said I could go home, knowing they were going to dock me 4 weeks pay if I did.
I said, ‘You will be hearing from my lawyer.’
I received the check very soon after they received the letter our lawyer drafted admonishing them for their petty behavior.
That was as good of a feeling as almost any I’ve experienced in this life.
The company I worked previously for eliminated the training department and threw it on us managers to shoulder the load. Meanwhile, I am swamped. I have no time to train anyone. But I do it. And I do it graciously. I never complained. I trained maybe 10 new hires over like a 5 yr period. Because I had to, I’m responsible. It’s my ship and all that.
Well, this preferential treatment accusation came at me from the Union. Basically, another associate wanted this girl fired because of something she did or said in the parking lot one day so they figured they could tie me up in with her. It failed in the end because one of associates broke under cross examination but the thing that really grinds my gears is that I got written up for improperly training her because, well, let’s be honest, she was bad at her job and if you wanna know why it’s impossible to get rid of bad eggs once they’re in the union, I can tell you that too.
It was final written warning. It was my first offense in my 15 years there. Right there. In that same spot. The writing was on the wall. I was on my way out. So I called an old boss that went to work at another company and within two weeks I began to heal and realize that I was/am so much better than they ever gave me credit for and my life has since been renewed. I’m so grateful for the experience, so I know I’m on the greener side of life now.
But I’ve been watching HR like a hawk.”
It Cost Him The Company
“A couple years ago, I was a junior supervisor at a medium sized company (name withheld for legal reasons) in the Netherlands.
It was a nice company to work for. Then an American and Harvard graduate (let’s call him Harvard) bought the company and started running it personally. He thought by applying US tactics he could corner the market. The first thing was by decreasing costs. By costs he meant employees.
In my country we have strict laws that protect employees. He thought he found a loophole. We never found if it worked because he never got the chance.
His wife started a new company. Rented some office place. Flew some Americans in to run the upper, senior and junior positions. But there were no other personnel.
The plan was to close down our company. That was possible because it was a private owned company. He would inform us during a meeting, and during the meeting a rival company (Wife’s Company) would offer the ex-employees jobs for far lower wages etc.
He and his American upper staff also needed help from some senior Dutch people. He offered them nice bonuses and good positions for their silence. They all agreed (Backstabbers) except one (Saint). He was the most senior. Worked in the company for 30 years. He said he agreed and he went the same night to the old owner (Old Saint). Told him what happened. The ex-owner was shocked. He and his family had that company for more than 50 years. He sold it only because his children did not want to run that company.
He called his children over. Explained what happened and they came up with an idea. His son started a new company across the street. But there were ZERO employees. The building was fully equipped with all the equipment and furniture they needed.
Two months later ALL the employees got invited to an emergency meeting by mister Harvard.
He looked sad and regretful. He told us that, because of personal reasons, he was closing the company today. He did not like it but he had no choice. But he would make sure that we found jobs so all night long he called rival companies to find jobs for us and he managed to find one that would hire most of us today. He had invited the rival company CEO (Punk) and their HR over to the meeting.
The Punk told us he was sad to hear what happened but not worry because he was here to help. But he had to be honest. He was taking a big risk by hiring so many people at the same time. So his hourly wages were far lower and this was an one time offer only. You could not later ask for a job. You had to take it NOW. Take it or leave it.
Mr. Harvard thought most people would be desperate enough to accept it. And by accepting the jobs immediately they would get no severance packages; otherwise, by Dutch law, to each person he fires he has to pay a large percentage of their monthly pay every month for a half year. But that only counts until one has a new job.
IT DID NOT WORK!!!
Old Saint and his children had invited me and around a dozen others of the company. We got informed what would happen and of their plan. We were the ones that were in key positions. Junior supervisors, HR, Payroll, Operations, ICT etc. We were the ones they needed. We all agreed.
We copied all the customer files. We looked it up it was not against company policy. Our new owner probably thought we had that policy. We copied all the data, records we could get our hands on. It did not matter what it was about. We informed trustworthy customers about the situation and the plan. We slowly started informing trustworthy employees who we knew who could keep their mouth shut. Before the emergency meeting got called we had all the info we needed.
Two hours before the emergency meeting we told all our employees what the new owner would do and what the old owner’s plan was.
When the Punk told us it was a one time offer only and that if one wanted a new job they had to sign now, we ALL stood up without a word gave them the FINGER and left the room and building and crossed the street to the new company of Old Saint.
So Harvard, Backstabbers, Prick, and his HR all came running after us to stop us. They even had security with them. They did not understand what was happening. At the entrance Old Saint stopped them and said they were not allowed to enter. Harvard was confused and angry and demanded to know what was happening. Old Saint told Mr Harvard he was a smart guy so he had to find out himself.
While they were arguing downstairs we managed to sign over 91% of the clients to our new company.
Harvard was livid when he figured out what happened. He even sued! But the judge ripped him a new butt in nice legal terms.
And that is not all. We worked the first six months in our company as unpaid volunteers and unpaid interns. By doing that Mr Harvard had to pay 70-90% of our monthly paychecks.
And the funny thing is each of us got, each month throughout those six months, a white envelope in the mail. There was no info on it or any letter in it. But there was cash money in it in used Euro bills.
More funny is that that amount was the same amount we would have gotten if we worked at our new company as paid employees.
After six months we ALL got permanent contracts.
Mr Harvard lost almost all his money. He hired some new people and tried to get his customers back. None came back. The customers he had left started leaving him because he could not perform. He was then forced to sell his company. Nobody was interested. He had almost no employees and few customers and a bad reputation. He then sold all the equipment, computers, and furniture of the company. Most of the stuff we bought cheap through a shell company. His wife left him and took half of his remaining money. He eventually moved back to America.
Closing the company was his last plan. Beforehand he tried lot of schemes to get rid of people, lower our wages etc but we were and are protected by the Dutch laws. The scheme with a new company was his last shot.
Mr Harvard probably thought he could hire a big shot lawyer and drag it out for years and win. He thought wrong.
He eventually moved back to The United States. He started working at FedEx at a far lower function to make ends meet. My boss kept tabs on him.”
Not A Good Company Policy
“I worked for a very large technology company, Fortune 100, household name. We had yearly performance reviews in March, you were ranked one to five, with one being the best. The rule was nobody gets a one (Well, maybe ~three%, very tough, any one had to be justified way up the line). The number of two’s was dictated by a standard deviation curve. Most people got three’s, and four’s were also dictated by standard deviation. Nobody got a five, managers were expected to move them out. This was the HR policy. While it worked when looking at a division of 300 people, when it got to the individual workgroup (eight-ten people) it broke. Terribly.
I was an outstanding performer. I have a desk littered with award trophies, including two of the most highly sought after executive-level awards. I was named ‘X of the year’ in two different groups in my career.
When it came to my performance review, my boss literally told me, ‘You’re getting a three; HR decided that all of the two’s should go to lower job grade employees to ‘motivate them.’
He said that my performance was easily a two, and he would have fought for me to get a one. Part of this may also have been financial since I was a higher job grade so getting a better review score would have resulted in a proportionally higher raise.
I said ‘Thank you, I understand, that is the company policy.’
At this point, I had been there for 10 years and had been in and out of management roles. I interviewed the following Friday, and accepted a job outside the company.
At this point, more than a dozen VPs and high level executives called me to plead with me to stay. They expressed how much they needed my skills and how I was a critical part of the company.
I said ‘Thank you, but the time to acknowledge my value to the company was with my performance review, and this is the exact disconnect that caused me to leave.
The funny thing is that I went to a company that was then a supplier to my old company. For years, whenever I would arrive for meetings executives would say that they really wished I hadn’t left. I had several job offers over the years. But that move by HR to put performance reviews out in that manner prevented me from ever going back.”
Always Important To Read Carefully
“I landed a job in a service based IT company. After salary negotiations, the HR manager told me that she will email the offer letter, and asked me to go through it thoroughly and revert with questions. Everything was as per what we agreed and I accepted the offer.
Important thing to note is that the offer letter which was emailed to me had a notice period of 90 Days.
After few months the projects we were hired for were done, and we were waiting for new projects. Things started to go south at this point and I started to look for another job. It was really difficult to find another job because of the 90 day notice period. No company would process my profile after I mentioned my notice period as 90 days.
After a couple of months, the HR manager called me to her office and said that I was of no use to the company, as there were no more projects and told me that I have a months time to look for a new job. I was taken by surprise and told her that the employee and employer have a notice period of 90 days to each other. At this point she told that it is 30 days and not 90 days. I immediately pulled my phone out and showed her the soft copy which was emailed to me. It had 90 days. The whole time the HR had a smirk on her face. Then she opened the hard copy, the copy on which I had signed during induction, and showed me the notice period. It had 30 days!
It was then I realized what had happened. The 90 days notice period would discourage employees looking out for a job, but if the company wanted to fire them, they would have to pay salary for only 30 days.
It was stupid on my part not to read the document before I signed, I know. But, in fact while signing, I briefly started glancing at the document, I looked at the finances and the job title section when the HR manager interrupted and told me that the CEO was waiting to meet me, and that I should sign the letter soon as we don’t want to keep the CEO waiting. The notice period section was buried somewhere in the 12th page. Obviously, I had no time to look at it.
After talking to a lot of people, I realized and was surprised at how many sign the offer letter without reading and assuming it’s the exact copy of the emailed copy. Don’t commit the mistake which I did.
Lesson to learn: When you are signing the offer letter during induction, take your time, go through it thoroughly and only then sign it.”
Bob Knew What Was Happening
“During the Great Recession, I worked at a place that employed some shady tactics. We were all on automatic deposit, and our paychecks typically cleared a little after midnight on payday. I didn’t track my paycheck that closely, but some people definitely did.
One of them was ‘Bob,’ who sat right in the middle of the office and whose desk was normally a center of activity.
Normally, Bob was Mr. Productive. Always smiling, super efficient, hardly ever goofing off, especially first thing in the morning. But on this morning, his laptop was conspicuously closed and desk lamp turned off (He switched on and off his lamp to signal the beginning and end of the work day).
Bob was also a flamboyant gay guy with a flair for the dramatic. So in addition to the closed laptop and switched-off lamp, he also had his feet on the desk, beach-resort style, and was reading a romance novel.
‘What’s wrong, Bob?’ I asked.
‘We didn’t get paid today,’ he told me.
Sure enough, the checks, which normally were deposited at midnight, didn’t clear. Heck, they didn’t even show up. Bob and others who lived paycheck to paycheck, had counted on a deposit that wasn’t made. After most of the employees had made it in, we staged a group walkout. The boss had not come in, and actually asked his secretary to meet him on the street with his laptop so he wouldn’t have to face the music.
We decided our best course of action was to go to the bar downstairs, and start drinking. The boss got our office manager on the phone, and they cleared up some funds in order to issue us the checks. Then we all marched out and headed to the bank (not a retail bank, a business bank that looked more like an office) where a bewildered clerk doled out thousands of dollars in cash to a group of about 10 of us. Super-awkward, as the process made it obvious how much we were all getting paid. Good times.
The funny thing was, our boss didn’t bat an eye. In fact, he sent a email saying something like, “’ realize some people were in a bad mood this morning, but the clients don’t care,’ (implying that we had somehow failed our clients after walking out). I ventured that our clients would certainly care if they knew we didn’t get paid.
The president of the company called me into his office later and asked if I thought this action was OK. I said it would have maybe been fine if we had gotten some warning, but to spring it on us was highly unethical.”
They Know Where He Is
“A HR manager made it their mission to catch people calling into work sick and lying. They came to my door to see if my husband was really sick or pretending. Thing was, we were not at home. We were at the hospital. The HR manager kept calling my husband’s cell phone. I finally answered. When I did, they said they wanted to speak to my husband. I told them he could not come to the phone. They said that if my husband did not call within the hour, he would be fired.
I told this to the nurse in the ER as my husband was undergoing tests. She relayed it to the doctor, who then had the nurse ask me for the number that called and told the HR manager that my husband was sedated and undergoing tests. The HR manager had the nerve to call the nurse a liar. She then stated she would be a witness in court against them should my husband be fired. My husband was released the following day, and ordered to stay in bed and rest until his doctor visit in a week.
The HR manager called again, demanding my husband return to work. I then told them he could not due to doctor’s orders. They said if they did not get the doctor’s orders within the hour, he would be fired.
‘How do you expect me to get it to you?’ I asked.
‘Drive over,’ they responded.
‘I do not drive due to Epilepsy,’ I replied.
He said for me to stop lying ,and get the doctor’s stay at home orders to him. He also said he knew we were lying, since our car never moved. He said put one of those tracking devices with a GPS tracker on his car! I told him that the car did not move because my husband was not able to drive in his condition, and was taken to ER by ambulance and my in-laws drove me to the hospital. I went out and searched our car and found the round device. I took it off. I then had my in-laws drive me to his work. HR manager was standing outside waiting.
I handed him the papers from the doctor, ambulance, everything.
‘Where is your car?’ the manager asked.
‘I do not have one,’ I truthfully said.
‘Okay, then where is your husband’s car?’ he inquired
‘Well, since you put the gps on his car, tell me where it is,’ I stated
He said, while looking at his phone said it is supposed to be here.
‘Think again,’ I told him.
He asked for me to give him the gps device I took off my husband’s car. I told him no, and asked if he wanted it to call the police.
‘I am sure they will arrest you for stalking, tampering with another person’s property, invasion of privacy, and illegal spying on employees while not on duty!’ I screamed.
He said he would fire my husband. By this time, the owner came out and the HR guy started his spiel. The owner demanded to have the device and I refused. I told him the same thing. He said he would fire my husband. I told them both go ahead, and we will see him in court and that before he does fire my husband he better talk to an attorney. I then left. I did not hear from them again. My husband returned to work after being released to do so by his doctor a week later. He went in with the letter from the dr of return to work release. The HR and the owner never fired him and never asked for the gps device back. I still have it as insurance. They have also started treating my husband nicer.”
The Manager Set Them Up
“I was fired almost two years ago. The day I was fired, I had turned up to work and the previous evening my colleague who was acting as HR manager had asked me for my password to my computer, so she could print some ‘things’ from my computer. She had told me that the printing was essential and that I had to share my password.
This was not congruent with the company’s privacy policies, but she had shown me a message from our IT manager saying my computer was needed.
This HR manager did not like me.
She then went through my messages that I had sent to another colleague. These messages would be deemed inappropriate in the workplace.
When I turned up to the work next day, my belongings were packed in a box and I was told I would not be needed at work today or ever again.
My mistake was sending the inappropriate messages to my colleague, who subsequently resigned the same day. I cost myself a job. I cost my friend and colleague his job.
The HR manager used the line that I was inappropriate for the role and that I was not meeting sales expectations. The HR manager who had used my password inappropriately had claimed I was let go due to low sales requirements. This was not true, as I was leading our office with the sales goal that had been set the previous month.
The IT manager also claimed that he had never sent this message to my HR manager. She had forged the message and had shown this to me.
I was to blame for the messages that I had sent but, in terms of tactics this HR manager was closer to a dictator than someone who was resolving workplace issues.”