Employees should be the champions of the companies they work for. But profit is the governing mantra of big business, which leads to shady practices making lots of employees fed up with the way their employer is operating. And with social media, it’s easier than ever for them to expose the shady truths about famous companies most of us aren’t aware of. Here are ten of the most significant examples of well known, loved, and trusted brands getting exposed for not so lovable tactics.
Various employees over the years have shared some factual evidence that KFC engages in practices that won’t make your mouth water. In this video, which has over 13 million views, an employee demonstrates how this fast-food chain prepares the ‘fresh’ items.
Another video reports on a man who found maggots in his order.
And it’s not just one location. For the past year, employees from all over have been taking to the internet and sharing stories. Stories about rats and cockroaches have even surfaced.
One Reddit forum, started and moderated by ex-employee Stephen Daive, is so filled with gripes about uncleanliness and bad food safety that KFC responded with their usual corporate speak, claiming that “Each KFC store is audited five times a year, both internally and externally”. Which really clears things up.
Toyota thought they’d avoided a public relations disaster when they skirted accusations that problems existed with their brakes and acceleration pads. Then a law firm working for Toyota hired a translator named Betsy Benjaminson to work on internal documents. Oops!
What Betsy saw, Betsy could not hide. She revealed Toyota’s extensive cover-ups following a number of high-profile fatalities involving their vehicles.
The accidents took place from 2007-2010, and Toyota continually blamed floor mats and driver errors for the malfunctions. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA backed up Toyota.
But when Betsy got to work on internal memos, reports, repair records and emails, she noticed a pattern of confusion and discrepancies. She decided it was time to become, as she puts it, a gnat biting the elephant’s toe.
She could do something meaningful to prevent future tragedies, so she did. After consulting her rabbi, she anonymously leaked the documents and eventually would reveal her name.
The faults were actually within the cars internal electronics, leading to the cars accelerating uncontrollably.
Toyota engineers had no clue about why this was happening. In emails to one another, they even blamed a “ghost in the machine.”
Finally, in December of 2013, Toyota moved ahead with a settlement process in the many wrongful death lawsuits against them. Although it’s hard for her to find work now, Betsy still believes that she did the right thing.
Known for its smart cars and innovative, environmentally compatible products, and of course Elon Musk, Tesla is considered a darling of public relations. Until Karl Hensen and Martin Tripp came along. Martin was the first to cry foul, claiming that Tesla was using faulty batteries and overstating its production numbers.
In return, Tesla tapped his electronic communications even after his dismissal from the company.
Then along comes Karl Hensen, who claims he has evidence to confirm the existence of drug trafficking with Mexican cartels inside Tesla, a suspicion first raised by the Storey County Sheriff’s Department and the DEA, which Tesla declined to investigate. That isn’t all. Hensen says Tesla refused to report over 37 million in stolen raw materials and when he himself reported it to them, they ordered him to cease his own internal investigation. He also claims that another employee was fired after reporting some of the thefts to authorities.
The Sheriff’s department confirms the company reported a couple of thefts to them, but Tesla refused to specify what was stolen and said they would bring in their own outside vendors to investigate. Martin Tripp only filed his claims after Tesla fired him and sued him for hacking trade secrets and passing internal documents.
Of course, there are always two sides to the argument. According to Tesla, some of Hensen’s claims are outright false and others not corroborated.
Whatever the case, a certain inventor of electrical current, first name Nikola, must be rolling over in his grave right now.
7. DOLLAR GENERAL
What would you do if you were the manager of a busy retail chain, understaffed and overworked, making up for staff shortages, and then one night you got in an accident because of all that stress? Ask for worker’s comp, right? That’s exactly what Dawn Hughey did, and Dollar General responded by firing her.
Thus began a two year battle over employee working conditions at this national chain with over 15,000 stores in 45 of the 48 continental states in the US. Dollar General claimed the firing was over pre-existing problems with her productivity. But Dawn is just one of many managers who say that they don’t have enough employees to cover the man hours needed to keep the store in shape. Which probably is what leads to the mess seen here in this Dollar General-themed episode of “Retail Archaeology”.
So, according to lawsuits, it’s the manager’s responsibility to cover the work that employees cannot do, forcing the managers to work up to 70 hours a week. Managers, who are ‘salaried employees’ according to Dollar General, are not eligible for overtime pay, helping Dollar General turn profits on very slim margins.
They are, however, can get health benefits. This is a probable reason for Dollar General to fire Miss Hughey after her injury rather than keep her on the payroll. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, many people sued various businesses across the Discount Store industry. These lawsuits may finally force Dollar General to clean up their act.
This bank seems to be the worst-of-the-worst when it comes to shady business practices. From tax evasion to money laundering… it seems they embraced all kinds of evils. One whistleblower, Herve Falciani is currently living in Spain, while facing 5 years in prison in Switzerland for leaking details about HSBC customers whom he believed were evading taxes.
Falciani is a French citizen who worked for HSBC and in 2008 leaked documents that became known as the ”SwissLeaks Scandal”. He basically exposed more than 120,000 clients from HSBC’s private banking arm that hid 222 billion dollars from tax authorities.
In 2017, HSBC agreed to pay 352 million dollars to stop the case from going to trial but they never admitted guilt over the case. Seems like they got off lightly if you ask me. Spain has so far refused to extradite Falciani, on the grounds that there are no laws in Spain that cover “aggravated financial espionage”, the crime he is charged with in Switzerland.
This adds to HSBC’s troubles, after having been caught facilitating transactions between terrorist groups and laundering Mexican drug money into the US in 2012. The perpetrators would deposit cash at a HSBC branch in Mexico, then the money went over the border by the bank, thus cleaning the cash.
The bank overlooked safeguards due to lax security, and the OCC, a US financial regulator, failed to properly oversee them. It might seem like a victimless crime, but it’s quite the opposite. They facilitated the actions and violence of brutal cartels, which struggle to operate when banks abide by the law by refusing to work with them.
Most of us love Amazon since it offers such great value. Prime customers for one, get free shipping and deep discounts, but who actually pays the price? The evidence suggests its Amazon Employees who work at their distribution centers.
To meet the demand for items and the promises Amazon offers its customers, employees face with pressure that only Olympic athletes have to deal with. Undercover reports and ex-employees reveal that supervisors time everything.
Basically you work against the clock, and failing to finish on par leads to disciplinary talks from managers. Workers face termination if they don’t complete packing certain items in under two minutes. Supervisors even time bathroom breaks. Sometimes, you’ll see ambulances there to take exhausted workers to the hospital.
‘The Independent’ even reported that some were made to do compulsory overtime ahead of the Christmas period, leading to 55-hour weeks that leave workers so exhausted that they ‘fall asleep standing up’. Employees call themselves “human robots”. Many days they walk the equivalent of ten miles, all back and forth through the warehouses.
Professor Michael Marmot, an expert on stress at work, says this type of work significantly increases the risk Amazon employees have of developing mental and physical illnesses. Still, Amazon says it “provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits from day one.”
It’s true they aren’t doing anything illegal, and it is great that they’re able to make people work so hard and offer such cheap prices, but surely there has to be a limit? What do you think about it?
Sometimes guilt just gets to former employees, and they have to sound the alarm. Take former Facebook Senior Exec Chamath Palihapitya, who in this video explains how he believes the “machine” he helped create is actually ripping apart the social fabric of society.
Then there’s Sandy Parakilas, who spoke up during the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed that there had been a breach of 87 million Facebook users’ data: data allegedly used for the purposes of influencing important political events.
Mr. Parakilas says that even back in 2011 and 2012, Facebook’s focus was apparently on growth and monetization at the expense of user safety. He was in charge of policy compliance and privacy issues and drew up an entire map of vulnerabilities the social media platform faced. The management ignored it. Mr. Parakilas also alleges that algorithms were designed to maximize time spent by users on the site, while product design was focused on maximizing their number of users, with a disregard for the harm caused by addiction or potentially threatening, inflammatory content.
He believes that if companies are not self-regulating properly, they should be punished for not protecting people’s well-being. Still, Facebook says that they are continuing to invest heavily in safeguarding users and their privacy, even at the expense of profitability.
Did you know that 57 million Uber drivers had their data hacked last year? No? The reason is simple. Uber tried to cover it up. It was a massive blunder that some experts are describing as “Amateur Hour”. The data was unencrypted. They failed to inform any of the victims. And they paid the hackers 100,000 dollars to stay quiet and destroy the data.
But this attitude of protecting their own interests over that of their customers is actually a pattern.
During the start-ups meteoric rise to become one of the highest valued companies in the world, there have been systematic attempts to undermine competition or antagonists. When regulators were investigating Uber in cities where they violated regulations, Uber used a secret program to freeze undercover operators and regulators from using the service as normal.
Former employee Rick Jacobs also just alleged that they have a secret team dedicated to stealing trade secrets from other companies. And their employees booked fake rides to occupy competing services like LYFT, to ruin their efficiency.
A number of executives and employees have stepped down due to the exposure of these tactics and Uber says it is changing the way they do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision they make and working hard to earn the trust of their customers, according to new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
Still, the company has some ways to go, as its currently at the center of a series of sexual misconduct and harassment scandals by former employees.
2. WELLS FARGO
Boy, after reading this section, you’ll probably want to keep your money under your mattress and make all your meals at home.
This whistleblower, Yesenia Guitron was initially shot down and fired when she refused to make fake credit card accounts in real clients names, endangering innocent clients credit histories. Yesenia claims Wells Fargo attempted to bully her into it and she resisted. Yesenia lost her initial lawsuit, where she claimed Wells Fargo falsified performance reports to justify her firing.
Then came the official inquiry when 5 employees joined her in the fight, filing reports claiming they were asked to meet unrealistic sales quotas and opened the sham accounts to reach management goals, and Yesenia was called to testify before a grand jury.
Eventually, Wells Fargo settled a $142 million class action lawsuit. Yesenia proved her innocence when she received the James Madison Freedom of Information Award for her efforts against them.
1. GOOD OL’ MICKEY D’S
McDonalds may be a beloved American institution, but I’m going to let the pictures and videos coming up speak for themselves.
Former employee Nick posted these pictures to Twitter of the Ice Cream tray at the Louisiana location where he worked and some loyal customers accused him of lying or misrepresenting.
In response, he posted more revealing photos, including puddles of mold and grease around various equipment.
The management fired him after those Twitter posts. This inspired a whole movement of employees revealing dirty parts of their restaurants, and employees of similar fast food chains posted their own dirty pictures, like Wendy’s employee Christine.
McDonald’s has pretty much bounced back from this expose. Official statements from the McDonald’s owner, John Valluzzo, reaffirmed conducting regular training to make sure members follow safe food practices. Though brand representatives reached out to Nick to remove the images, he refused to do so.
So, which shady truths about famous companies surprised or shocked you the most? Let me know in the comments down below. And, if you’ve ever wondered what happens if all the oil runs out, you should check out this video on that topic.