The Home Depot, Inc.
This company has areas of concern around Worker Rights, Human Rights, Political Influence and Business Ethics.
The Home Depot, Inc.
2455 Paces Ferry Rd. NW Atlanta GA USA
Lots of folks embark on household projects from The Home Depot. As the world's largest home improvement chain and second-largest retailer in the US after Wal-Mart, the firm operates more than 2,150 stores in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. It targets the do-it-yourself and professional markets with a broad product assortment (up to 45,000 items, including lumber, floor and wall coverings, plumbing, gardening supplies, tools, paint, and even appliances). Home Depot has reshuffled its top management in response to angry shareholders and sold its construction supply business, HD Supply, in 2007.
 Worker's Rights
- The Home Depot is known for having a strong "union-free" policy like other major retail companies. A recent position opening for Human Resource Manager encouraged management to push a Union Free environment. "Protect and maintain Home Depot's union free status...Proactively communicate Home Depot's Union Free philosophy through education, communication and understanding of related issues and law and by addressing all issues towards the purpose of providing a Issue Free/Union Free environment." - May 2008 Position Detail - Human Resource Manager
- “The Atlanta-based company, under different leadership, a different growth philosophy and amid an ailing housing market, put the brakes Thursday on some of its future expansion plans and said it would do what was previously unthinkable -- close 15 of its underperforming flagship stores....The move, to be completed within the next two months, will affect 1,300 employees...."By building fewer stores, in the best locations, and making sure our existing stores are profitable, our company will be in a much stronger competitive position," said CEO Frank Blake, who took over for Nardelli in January 2007...A company spokesman said some of the affected employees will be relocated, while others could lose their jobs.” - May 2008 Home Depot to close 15 underperforming US stores
- Renovating Home Depot 3/2006: In March of 2006, BusinessWeek spoke with 11 former Home Depot executives, a majority of whom requested anonymity lest the company sue them for violating nondisclosure agreements. Some describe a demoralized staff and say a "culture of fear" is causing customer service to wane. The article also raised criticisms of excessive CEO compensation and a policy of hiring "part-timers" to cut down worker's pay.
- Home Depot on Bottom Rung of the Human Relations Ladder "Jane Govenor gave Home Depot 15 years of her life: long, honest and loyal hours. As assistant manager, she averaged 70 hours per week. "I think it's sad because Home Depot used to be a great company. Someone thanked me at one time, but I would have preferred a bonus," she says. (Last year, Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli received $27 million-plus, including several million dollars to cover tax payments on a forgiven loan.)"
- Class action for unpaid overtime "Class action status is being sought in a lawsuit filed against Home Depot on behalf of more than 500 current and former assistant managers. The suit alleges that the company violated federal and state employment laws and claims that it unfairly denied overtime pay and pension benefits to the plaintiffs by improperly classifying them as managers. According to an attorney for the plaintiffs, 'These men and women have been given the phony title of 'assistant store manager,' but in fact have primarily been performing the work of hourly employees and are, therefore, entitled to overtime pay.'"
- Settlement reached in discrimination suit "A $5.5 million dollar settlement has been reached in the discrimination class action lawsuit filed on behalf of current and former staff workers at the firm's Colorado stores. The suit alleged that there was 'a hostile work environment based on gender, race, and national origin, and that the company retaliated against employees who complained about discrimination'"
- Settlement reached in gender discrimination suit "The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Seattle filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the home improvement company on behalf of a female former employee. The female employee worked as a kitchen designer at the Shoreline store and was allegedly subjected to gender discrimination and was terminated after eight years of satisfactory performance. Home Depot has agreed to pay a $125,000 settlement."
 Human Rights
- "Every time you buy an imported handmade carpet, an embroidered pair of jeans, a beaded purse, a decorated box or a soccer ball there's a good chance you're acquiring something fashioned by a child. Such goods are available in places like GapKids, Macy's (nyse: M - news - people ), ABC Carpet & Home, Ikea, Lowe's (nyse: LOW - news - people ) and Home Depot (nyse: HD - news - people ). These retailers say they are aware of child-labor problems, have strict policies against selling products made by underage kids and abide by the laws of the countries from which they import. But there are many links in a supply chain, and even a well-intentioned importer can't police them all." - Feb 2008 Forbes
- “On Tuesday, September 24, 2002, Home Depot Canada sent a small army of private security guards backed by a small army of Toronto police to forcibly evict about 125 people from a homeless encampment on their unused property in downtown Toronto, Canada. The site, known as Tent City, has been the home to Canada’s largest homeless encampment for several years. There were about 55 structures in Tent City, most of them built by the residents...Within minutes of occupying the site, they had erected a new, nine-metre high barbed wire fence, a new security road around the perimeter and high-intensity search lights, not to mention the private security staff and construction crews brought on site. Home Depot removed the residents so quickly that they didn’t have a chance to gather medicine, identification or other personal items...The United Nations Commission on Human Rights says that 'forced evictions are a gross violation of human rights'.” Action Campaign Against Home Depot 2002
 Political Influence
- Presidential Mystery Solved: Why Bush Is Stopping at Home Depot "Bush Rewards Generous GOP Donor with Visit to Maryland Store on Friday; Energy Bill Includes $48 Million Tax Break that Benefits the Giant Retailer... The Bush administration’s close ties to Home Depot don’t stop there. Executive Vice President Francis Blake, the company’s No. 2 person, left his post as Bush’s deputy energy secretary after just 10 months on the job in 2001 to work for Home Depot. Blake, who worked for Nardelli at GE, previously served as general counsel to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Clinton."
- Home Depot lobbying expenditure data In 2008, The Home Depot PAC spent a total of $994,755 on lobbying expenditures and $564,000 in the 2008 election cycle (as of April 2008).
 Environmental Concern
- "The environmental group that runs a widely recognized labeling system to identify "green" wood and paper products has acknowledged that some companies using its label are destroying pristine forests and says it plans to overhaul its rules. The admission by the Forest Stewardship Council, based in Bonn, threatens the credibility of an organization whose tree-with-a-check-mark logo adorns products for sale at big retailers including Home Depot Inc., Lowe's Cos. and Ikea AB." August 2007 FSC's 'Green' Label for Wood Products Gets Growing Pains
- $10 million settlement in toxic storage lawsuit "The state of California and Los Angeles County prosecutors brought a civil lawsuit against Home Depot, alleging that the retailer failed to properly store and transport hazardous sludge. The suit stemmed from an incident when a 55-gallon drum at Home Depot's Marina Del Rey store blew up in 2004, causing a fire and an evacuation of customers and employees. Investigators later discovered that chemicals were mixed together into an explosive brew. Following the explosion, a waste hauler contracted by Home Depot was stopped by the California Highway Patrol in the town of Ripon in San Joaquin County. The truck was not certified by the state. Government agencies, including the state attorney general's office and prosecutors in Riverside, Santa Clara, San Joaquin and Monterey counties, then began in investigation. The investigation concluded that Home Depot routinely collected hazardous waste accumulated at its stores across California and placed them in large buckets for offsite disposal. The suit further alleged that haulers sometimes improperly stored and labeled the waste and did not keep good records of materials about to be transported."
- Home Depot Inc. agrees to $1.3 million EPA Clean Water Act violations settlement "The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought charges against Home Depot Inc., alleging that the company had violations of the federal Clean Water Act at 34 Home Depot store construction sites in 28 states. Records stated that those sites include three in CO, at Pioneer Hills and Saddle Rock in Aurora and in Evergreen. The EPA and the US Justice Department alleged that a pattern of clean water violations was discovered through state and federal inspections of construction sites in 2002 and 2003 as well as company documents. The suit claimed that Home Depot in some cases failed to obtain permits required by the EPA until after construction had begun, or didn't obtain them at all. The EPA also accused the chain of violating rules aimed at preventing pollution, such as silt and debris, from getting into storm water runoff at some of its work sites."
- Home Depot allegedly selling potentially toxic CCA-treated wood "A class action lawsuit has been filed against Home Depot Inc. on behalf of Texans who have purchased CCA-treated wood from the home improvement retailer. The suit claims that the company breached warranties and violated the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act by selling the potentially toxic CCA-treated wood which is used to build decks and playgrounds. The suit is seeking to have Home Depot refund or replace all of the CCA-treated wood it has sold in Texas since 1986, which could cost the company hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars."
 Business Ethics
- Investor Seeks Review of Home Depot’s Management "Home Depot, the home-improvement retailer that has come under criticism for its executive compensation practices and a flagging stock price, faces a fight with an activist investor... Ralph V. Whitworth, wrote to the chief executive, Robert L. Nardelli, last week, saying that Home Depot’s stock has underperformed since 2000 because of 'deficient strategy, operations, capital allocation, and governance,' according to documents released yesterday by the retailer. 'We are planning an advocacy program designed to spur positive action to address these deficiencies,' Mr. Whitworth wrote. Relational Investors, which owns about $1 billion of Home Depot stock, or 1.2 percent of shares outstanding, intends to ask shareholders to create a committee to study the company’s direction, management performance and strategic options at the annual meeting, which traditionally occurs in May. The fund will also submit at least two candidates for Home Depot’s board, including Mr. Whitworth."
- Home Depot Resists Subpoenas of Execs "The plaintiff's lawyer in the Home Depot whistle-blower case wants to take depositions from several top company executives, including the chief financial officer. But so far the home-improvement giant is resisting, according to The New York Post, citing motions filed with the U.S. Department of Labor... Last month, employee Michael Davis filed a whistle-blower complaint with the DoL charging that he was wrongfully fired when he refused to participate in the practice of allegedly overbilling suppliers for payments earmarked to cover the cost of damaged merchandise. An earlier Post story said the Securities and Exchange Commission had launched an informal probe into whether Home Depot used these payments from suppliers to inflate its earnings."
- Home Depot Equipment Fee Leads to Lawsuit "Home Depot is fighting a lawsuit that claims it automatically charges a 10 percent fee to equipment rentals without telling customers that this fee is optional. The 10 percent "Damage Waiver" is to reduce customers' liability for accidental damage to rented equipment. However, the coverage does not include damage caused by theft, burglary, misuse or abuse, disappearance or failure to care properly for the equipment. Furthermore, the suit claims that the waiver is actually listed as a tax, and that when customers requested the tax be removed, Home Depot refused to do so. The fee is also charged on tools that are almost impossible to damage, such as wrenches. Finally, the suit claims that customers are not allowed to see the terms and conditions of their contract until they have signed it. The result is that the customers do not know the extent of the damage waiver until after they have agreed to rent the tool. "
- The Home Depot and The Home Depot China has initially committed $200,000 to the China Charity Foundation and thousands of tents and other supplies for earthquake survivors. Home Depot Stores in China are donating 10 percent of sales from designated brands and are collecting contributions directly from customers to be sent to Chinese relief agencies. June 08 List of Selected US Company Contributions for Earthquake Relief
- At Home Depot, How Green Is That Chainsaw? "Home Depot sent a note a few months ago to the companies that supply the 176,000 products it sells, inviting them to make a pitch to have their products included in its new Eco Options marketing campaign. More than 60,000 products — far more than obvious candidates like organic gardening products and high-efficiency lightbulbs — suddenly developed environmental star power. Plastic-handled paint brushes were touted as nature-friendly because they were not made of wood. Wood-handled paint brushes witere promoted as better for the planet because they were not made of plastic... 'In somebody’s mind, the products they were selling us were environmentally friendly,' said Ron Jarvis, a Home Depot senior vice president who oversees the Eco Options program. But not in his mind. 'Most of what you see today in the green movement is voodoo marketing,' he added. 'If they say their product makes the sky bluer and the grass greener, that’s just not good enough.' Home Depot is working with Scientific Certification Systems, a private company based in Emeryville, Calif., that audits and certifies company claims, to develop new broad-based standards. They will grade a product based on its environmental record over its entire life cycle — including the sustainability of its production process, its efficiency and longevity and how it can be recycled when it is no longer useful. But until some kind of standard can be worked out, Mr. Jarvis and his team are forced to work their way through the thicket of claims."
- "Facing mounting pressure from environmentalists and shareholders, Home Depot promised to stop selling products with wood from endangered forests by the end of 2002. The Atlanta-based home improvement retailer announced Thursday that products made with certain types of wood, including cedar, redwood and lauan trees, will be phased out of stores unless they are certified to comply with environmental, economic and social standards." Home Depot to halt selling scarce wood August 1999
 Human Rights
- Human Rights Campaign ranks Home Depot 85 out of 100 This report created by the Human Rights Campaign asserts that Home Depot has noticeably modernized its policies in regards to GLBT community, including providing healthcare benefits for domestic partners, surgery and counseling for transgender employess, and mandatory diversity training addressing anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation.