Photo: Getty

The next time you go shopping in the big orange hardware store, take a moment to consider what these employees have to say about what life is really like working for Home Depot.

As a supplement to Home Depot billionaire Ken Langone’s new book “I Love Capitalism!”, we have run three separate installments of true stories from Home Depot employees, who have a lot to say about pay, working conditions, and quality of management. Today, one more peek inside Big Orange.

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A real budget in 2018

For a full time night position [merchandiser] it paid $10/hr... I did the math, and I think I still have the employee enrollment materials, if you max out your 401k contributions and healthcare options you would only be making $6/hr. On top of putting 30 miles of wear and tear on your car every night. (I live in a central location, one guy drove 400 miles every week as he lived further north)

And there’s no employee discount. Instead you get ‘deals’ on outside purchases like avis and (new) cars. Which again I find very fucking ironic because I don’t know anyone who can buy a new car on $10/hr...

And you make just enough to not qualify for medicare. I received a notice that I should enroll on healthcare.gov for benefits. When I asked other employees about it they said basic coverage would be $230 through the marketplace so they went uninsured.

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Fifteen years, no living wage

I have worked for the Depot for 15 years. After all that time I only make $13.71 an hour. In the store I work in they have just cut back on the number of department heads we have so that many of them are having to cover 2 and in some cases 3 departments and there was no financial compensation for having to take on the added responsibility. The people I work with are good people but morale is really low. I was a stay at home mom and raised 5 children before my marriage of almost 30 years ended that’s when Home Depot went from being extra money to my only money. I guess with no college training I should be glad I make what I make but it would still be nice if after 15 years I was at least making a living wage.

Sexual harassment

I worked at Home Depot [in Connecticut, this year] for about two months before I quit due to ongoing sexual harassment. I probably worked a total of 40 shifts and had an inappropriate or offensive comment made to me at least once a day, every single day. The long term employees would call “dibs” on new employees and lurk near them and make totally outrageous comments. I got invited on vacations to Jamaica to celebrate another employees divorce, I got told about one employee who worked third shift’s girlfriends raging hormones, even a seemingly innocent older guy showing me photos of his kids (who were adults) made a comment about how even though he was old enough to be my “daddy” that wasn’t going to stop him from hitting on me...

While I was quitting I spoke with hr about the problem and they offered to move me to another store, like I was the problem.

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Pros and Cons, from a Long Island employee

Pros

-lifting 40-60 pound bags of mulch, dirt, lawn lime, etc. for 25-35 hours a week.

-not allowed to accept tips.

-access to “ladders”, which are really just top-heavy staircases with wheels that don’t all touch the ground at the same time.

-carrying 6 gallon packages of bleach, weed killer, and other liquids while on top of the topheavy “ladders”

-management that does not and will not speak to you in a professional manner

-timed bathroom breaks

-anti union culture

-move this entire shelf for 6 hours across the store so that management can decide tomorrow that they like it better where it was, also guess who’s moving all that s**t back ;)

-yearly raises that don’t even surpass the inflation rate

-”don’t drink water from the complimentary water cooler, that’s for customers” employees must drink from the chlorine fountains

-getting written up for being less than 20 minutes late for the third time in a 6 month period

-inadequate training on things like roofing, flooring, plumbing, gardening, HVAC, electrical, etc. and being expected to provide expert advice in those areas.

-scheduled for 8 hours this week? We better schedule you Tuesday 7pm-11pm and then Wednesday 6am-10am

-if you’re scheduled 6am-1pm with a lunch, it is highly frowned upon to just work 6am-12pm and then go home

-men must wear an under shirt with a polo, women can wear a t shirt. Especially if it’s 96 degrees and humid

Cons

-i intentionally mislabeled the pros category, there are no pros

-i would not recommend indenturing yourself to this company.

Locked in

Hours are brutal. Often times, they schedule one person at a time, going in at 5am, and the closer usually comes in at 2pm, when the opener is leaving. Then that person is by themselves for 8 hours at least. I would frequently find myself coming in at 2pm, by myself, a mess everywhere and being told at 11pm I can’t go home because I forgot a candy wrapper on the floor literally on the opposite end of the building. This would be after the manager had “walked” the department to ensure closing standards were met.

Worse yet was those days I came in at 1pm and kept under lock and key until nearly 1am because the ASM was afraid of the GM coming back from vacation the next day and finding a messy department. If the ASM hadn’t spent the whole week literally asleep in an office it wouldn’t get that bad. I was fortunate to be a fast worker. Others were not so lucky. I knew a guy that frequently got stuck from 2pm to 4am closing my department (lumber).

Anyone applying at home Depot should be aware of the fact that their hours and availability is never respected.

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Valued employees, or not

Worst job I ever had. Full stop. I was part of a crew that opened a new store. When I left 10 months after the store opening, there were only 2 other original employees left.

I was a college grad so they made me a kitchen designer since it was a technical position. I would regularly cover kitchens, plumbing, appliances and flooring as the only employee in those departments. There were times when there were only 4 employees total in the entire store. Suffice it to say I was constantly running around. It was impossible to sit at a computer and design a kitchen. On one occasion we did inventory till 2am and I was told to report back at work to open the store at 6am. (Illegal.) Management routinely lied about everything.

We were supposed to have 3 designers at our store but the other two quit a month in. I was literally the only person in the store who could order cabinets (a very difficult task in their outdated and cumbersome DOS based system.) Management had no idea how to do it. I own rental houses and needed cabinets for one. I actually went across the street to Lowe’s and they offered me 10% off. Home Depot refused to give me a discount

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Store temperatures are controlled remotely from headquarters

It is true about the climate control. I always wondered why there was an empty hot dog warmer turned on under the thermostat. Well it is so corporate in Atlanta who controls our air realizes it’s hot out. It gets to over 100 degrees in summer and the store manager still has to plug in the hot dog warmer so someone 3000 miles away will turn up our air.

Occurrences

they never ever stick up for their associates!!!! if you are sick? they don’t accept drs notes so even if you SERIOUSLY should not be around people? if you don’t have sick time? you get an occurrence...i had a respiratory infection and the dr said i shouldn’t be at work the next 2 days....i didn’t have any sick time so if i didn’t go to work it wouldn’t have counted against me ...so i went.....after a few occurrences? you are fired....lord help you if your car happens to break down on the way to work....you have only 7 min to clock in after your scheduled time...if you are 8 min late? you have an occurrence.....if a friend dies and you want to go to their funeral?? if you don’t have sick time? nope....you get an occurrence if you call out....i heard from one of my friends who work at another home depot that her manager said they weren’t allowed to have anything to drink...not even water and if they needed a drink of water? they would have to go on their 15 min break.....are you serious?!?!? at all of the stores the temp in there is so awful....its like 80 degrees plus humidity in the summer and like 30 degrees in the winter.....the service desk at my store was told one year by their district manager that they couldn’t have heaters to KEEP THEM WARM at the desk because “it made it seem like they were at home” WHAT THE FUCK!?!?! I could write a book on what an awful company it is to work for but ya....take it from me....DON’T WORK AT HOME DEPOT

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No time off to go to your own graduation

My son is working a part time summer job with Home Depot. This is his first job and he was very excited. Almost a week of sitting behind a desk training then he was tossed into a horribly understaffed and uncaring environment. He received 10 minutes of training on using all the cutting machines in then Lumber area where he was assigned. He also began using a fork lift within a week of being on the floor. He was working the night shift by himself after only four days! His schedule is 5:30pm-11:00pm. He was never told when he was interviewed, twice, this would be a his shift. He is expected to work these hours and go to school full time.

He needed time off to GRADUATE HIGHSCHOOL. I watched as he entered the days needed into the scheduling app they use. The request was over a month in advance. The request was for the evening of graduation and the evening of his graduation party. The supervisor then claimed it was too late, even though he had started the week before. The management then gave him a choice “Find someone to cover or come to work.” My son was put on the night shift alone. There was no one to reach out to!...

He even came home one night with the worst bruise on his foot I have ever seen. My son is a lineman for a football team that won 11 out of 13 state championships so I have seen him battered before but not like this. He reported what had happened just like his tiny bit of training instructed him to do. He was told that was just something he would get used to. When graduation got even closer he again asked if he could have the night of his graduation from high school off and the next Saturday night to celebrate with family at his home. He was then told management they were “working on it”. He then asked two weeks prior to graduation. The response was “oh yeah, I forgot since you work the night shift.. I don’t see you”. He came home and cried. My son didn’t cry when he broke both his lower arm bones and they were pushed out of the top of his arm. I want him to quit so badly. He is being left alone to work, unload trucks, use heavy machinery and cut lumber. This is NOT SAFE! I told my son to quit this is not what a summer job is supposed to be like. My son told me “He was not a quitter and will not quit now”.

If you are wondering he will call in to work those two days. He will be going to his High school graduation. The anxiety and the stress he and by default the rest of his family is unnecessary. He was hired as a part time worker. The hiring manager knew he was still in school when he was hired! The poorest management on the face of the earth. Who tells a 17 year old part timer that he can not attend his high school graduation and to show up at work or get fired?? I hate that this is his first job experience. All he is learning is that employers are incredibly hard on workers no matter the effort put into the job. I blame this on Home Depot.

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Final thoughts

I worked at home Depot for 7 years... With all of that experience and knowledge, after 7 years I wasn’t even making 13.00 an hour. Management truly doesn’t care about employees at all. They only care about other management and it is very obvious even after only being there a few months. The goal of the company is stock prices, nothing more. If your willing to tread all over your fellow co-worker and “live the orange life” (be brainwashed into thinking this a good company) you might be able to make a career out of it. Just realize you will lose your humanity. I sincerely hope that whole company burns to the ground with all the corporate and management folks in it.


Our sincere thanks to the hundreds of Home Depot employees who wrote in to share their stories. Previous true stories from the workplace:

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