Retailers are keeping track of employees suspected of stealing in databases that could keep them from ever working in the industry again.
These databases are used my major retailers including Family Dollar, Target, and CVS, report Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg at The New York Times.
The databases usually don't involve criminal charges, and most employees aren't aware that they've been put on the list until it's too late, according to the Times.
"But the databases, which are legal, are facing scrutiny from labor lawyers and federal regulators, who worry they are so sweeping that innocent employees can be harmed," the Times reported. "The lawyers say workers are often coerced into confessing, sometimes when they have done nothing wrong, without understanding that they will be branded as thieves."
The Times spoke to several people who are suing the database companies after being turned down for jobs. Some had not even admitted guilt for the alleged thefts.
Proponents of the databases say that it's important for companies to weed out potential thieves in the struggling economy.
But consumer attorneys say the system is full of abuses, since the database entries generally stem from statements obtained by a store's security force, which are not subject to due process, and employees may not even know such records exist.
Worst Retail Chains To Work For
Retailers Compile Blacklist Of Workers Accused Of Theft
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $10.41
CEO William Dillard II's total compensation last year: $4.01 million
Working sales at Dillard's can be a dramatic affair, complain several employees on Glassdoor.com. The clerks can be territorial, as they compete for sales numbers. There's little training, many say, and high turnover. Employees labor under the constant threat of termination, and with dizzyingly impossible-to-meet sales goals. The result: dismal morale.
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $7.51
CEO David Perdue Jr's total compensation last year: $1.94 million
The benefits and pay are low and there's a ton of work, especially because many of the stores run with a skeleton staff, employees gripe on Glassdoor.com. "They are not very understanding about family emergencies, your health, and love loading you with way more than you can handle," says one manager, even though Dollar General saw its profits last quarter soar 36 percent from the same time last year. The discount chain gets an average employee rating of 2.4 out of 5.
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $8.31
CEO Do Won Chang and his wife and CMO Jin Sook don't have publicly available salaries, because Forever 21 is a private company, but Forbes estimates their net worth at $3.6 billion.
Do Won Chang is no stranger to grueling work, having held three jobs at once -- as a janitor, gas station attendant and coffee shop barista -- when he first immigrated to America in 1981. But now as the co-founder, along with his wife, of retailer Forever 21, Chang doesn't have to mop a floor again. He's worth almost $4 billion.
But employees at his cheap chic chain aren't saved from the menial grind. While Forever 21 wasn't on the 100 biggest retail list, its lowly employee rating of 2.3 earns it an honorary spot. On Glassdoor.com, sales associates bemoan the long hours, which sometimes keep them in the store to the early hours of the morning. In January, a handful of Forever 21 employees filed a class action lawsuit against the chain, alleging that the company routinely failed to pay for time worked, and forced employees to labor through breaks and stay after they clocked out -- so that supervisors could check their bags for stolen goods.
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $7.92
CEO James Gooch's total compensation last year: $5.6 million
You have to work hard at RadioShack, say employees on Glassdoor.com, who complain about intense pressure from above to make sales goals, while managers lament about the time spent away from home with their 50- to 60-hour-a-week schedules. They give the company an average of 2.4 out of 5.
"Minimum wage unless you annoy people into buying a wireless phone," said a sales associate. And because of the high sales targets, "managers will always be on your back about absolutely everything," said one sales rep in Arlington, Texas. "Almost to the point where your whole life revolves around RadioShack and would seem as if you have lost your personal life."
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $7.58
CEO Michael Balmuth's total compensation last year: $12.5 million
The company doesn't have enough managers, so sales associates complain they don't get properly trained. And while employees have very nice things to say about each other, many of them agree that Ross Stores somehow manages to attract the rudest, most demoralizing customers. Then there's also the part about low pay, few raises, being understaffed and overworked. Employees on Glassdoor.com give the department chain a 2.4 out of 5.
Average hourly wage for grocery clerks: $15.45
Average hourly wage for baggers: $8.68
CEO Bob Piccinini's salary isn't available, because Super Mart is a private company. But as the majority shareholder of a chain with an annual revenue of around $5 billion, you can bet it's more than a bagger.
Employees are dissatisfied with Save Mart, according to Glassdoor.com, giving the 60-year-old supermarket chain an average rating of 2.4 out of 5. Many complain about a lack of promotion opportunities, and general disrespect from upper management.