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Some of the Biggest HR Mistakes of 2013

Posted by Erin Borgerson on December 13, 2013

2013 has certainly been an interesting year for HR. While lots of progress has been made, especially in terms of HR technologies, there were quite a few notable mistakes made along the way. Let's have a look at some of those bumps in the HR road, as compiled by Inc.

Intern lawsuits

Was 2013 the year of the intern lawsuit? It sure seems like it. From Fox Search Light to Conde Nast, under-paid and unpaid interns finally fought back. The result? The companies found guilty in court were forced to pay hefty fine. And others made the decision to eliminate their internship programs altogether. 

Hiring and firing based on looks

upset employeesA Hooters server brought suit against her former employer claiming disability discrimination. Upon having surgery to remove a benign brain tumor, thus leaving her without hair, the restaurant manager allegedly forced the woman to wear a wig, despite being told earlier that a hat would suffice.

Abercrombie & Fitch, a chain clothing company prone to discrimination lawsuits was in the spotlight yet again. Interviews from 2006 resurfaced showing that the CEO felt that only "cool", in other words, "not fat" people should shop at the store. More over, the company's HR department also felt it was acceptable to fire and not hire Muslim women who wore head scarves because it "violated their look policy." Inc. explains that the company changed their policy in 2013, but only after numerous lawsuits. 

Yahoo (need we say more?)

When Melissa Mayer announced in February that Yahoo would no longer offer employees the option to work from home, there was quite a bit of backlash. And just nine months later, things hit the fan when she announced employees would be rated based on a bell curve for annual performance reviews. Although neither issue is illegal by any means, HR probably had their hands full of frustrated and upset employees.

While I'm sure you are glad it wasn't you in any of these situations, it's a reminder of how important it is to keep open communication channels with your employees. Not only can it help to combat misunderstandings, but it can ultimately help to steer you clear of any HR-related lawsuits. So remember...

1. Be open with your employees

The more open you are with them, the more likely they are to be open with you. When something isn't aligned, it's easier to tackle the issue right away than to deal with it in court.

2. Keep your employee's best interest in mind 

Your company is only as good at its' employees. Remember this in every single decision you make. 

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Erin Borgerson

About the Author

Erin is the Director of Marketing, Crisis Controller and Culture Ambassador (the last two titles she gave to herself) who joined the Hireology team in April of 2012. As a certified Inbound Marketer, Erin manages Hireology's marketing department, the Hireology Blog, and media relations. She is also a co-leader of the Chicago Hubspot User Group which brings together Hubspot users from around the Chicagoland area. Erin set off to Chicago after graduating from Western Michigan University. In her spare time she can be found shaking it in a Zumba class, reading a bestseller, or drinking a craft beer on her Wrigleyville porch.