From Low Pay to High Stress: These Are the Absolute Worst Companies to Work for in America, According to Employees

Nearly everyone can drum up at least a few things they dislike about their current employer. A self-righteous manager or lack of communication from above can really put a damper on your work week. But what really burns people’s toast are companies that treat employees unfairly or pay the worst wages. In fact, many of us would rate inadequate pay just as poorly as unsafe work environments or subpar ethical standards.

So if you’re in the market for a high-paying, stable new career, read on. These next 15 companies are notorious, but not for anything good. Here are 15 worst companies you’ll want to avoid working for like the plague.

1. Kroger

Kroger store front

Kroger hahs plenty of unhappy employees. | Dwight Burdette/Wikimedia Commons

The average employee satisfaction rating on Glassdoor is a 3.3. Unfortunately, Kroger just misses the mark with a less-than-stellar 3.2 employee rating. There’s even an entire online forum dedicated to why working at Kroger sucks. On the plus side, about half of current and former employees would recommend their job to a friend, despite reports suggesting that the grocery chain pays its workers low wages.

If you prefer to make ends meet in your next job, look beyond Kroger. Most hourly worker pay hovers just above the national minimum wage.

Next: There’s nothing good about working for this next company.

2. Hertz

None of their offshoots have positive ratings either. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Scroll through Hertz employee reviews on Glassdoor and you’ll read things like “low pay”, “inconsistent hours”, and “management disconnect.” Only about a third of employees would recommend their jobs to a friend in need and the company’s overall rating is a dismal 2.6. That’s a shame for one of the biggest players in the rental car business. Hertz also owns Dollar and Thrifty brands — none of whom have favorable employee ratings either.

Next: Only the strong survive at this company.

3. Kraft Heinz

You have to be cut-throat to survive. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

A brutally honest report from The Chicago Tribune described what it’s really like to work at Kraft Heinz. Backed by Berkshire Hathaway, the company doesn’t discount its polarizing work culture since it’s their key to superior performance. Only the most competitive, ambitious, and cut-throat employees survive. So, one can assume work-life balance is non-existent, and only those who perform receive reputable pay.

Rule No.1? Employees must keep their desk clutter-free and have no more than two personal items visible, per company policy.

Next: Popular fast-food chain with some major blemishes

4. McDonalds

Employees are not paid well. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

McDonalds continues to be the highest-grossing restaurant chain in America, yet it can’t afford to pay its employees much more than minimum wage or provide them with adequate benefits. Crowdsource website Ranker lists Micky D’s as the second worst retailer to work for. Shocker.

Next: Terrible work environments make this one of the last companies you should work for.

5. Tyson Foods

Tyson farm

It’s a terrifying place to work. | Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

Horrific working conditions land Tyson Foods a prime spot on our worst companies to work for list. A 2016 report shed an unflattering light on the dangerous work environment, noting that some employees wore adult diapers because they were denied bathroom breaks. Others left with work-related knife injuries due to such close quarters on the assembly line. Need we say more?

Next: This company skirts overtime pay.

6. Walgreens


They promote to avoid paying overtime. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

American consumers have a love-hate relationship with drugstore chains and their pricey prescriptions, but it seems employees do as well. Disgruntled Walgreens employees site poor pay (cashiers are paid just $9 per hour) and other labor issues as major negatives. The Center for Popular Democracy tallied actual employee votes and named Walgreens the worst company in America. They’ve even been accused of promoting employees to salary positions to skirt overtime pay, resulting in employees earning less money per hour than their hourly counterparts.

Next: Walmart’s dark side

7. Walmart

Walmart is one of the worst for compensation. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Underpaid Walgreens employees have nothing on Walmart employees. This company is the worst when it comes to employee compensation, according to the National Employment Law Project. They found Walmart pays worse than even Pizza Hut, as cashiers earn an average of only $9.36 per hour and sales associates earn about $9.41 per hour. The national median is $17.81.

Money Inc put Wally World’s terrible sweatshop conditions on display for the world to see, highlighting a 2013 factory fire in Bangladesh that collapsed and killed over 1,000 people, all due to how unsafe the building was. Walmart had previously relied on factories in the Rana Plaza building to manufacture some of the clothes sold in its stores, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Next: Underpaid workers at this popular retailer

8. TJX Companies

T.J. Maxx

They are not paid well. | RiverNorthPhotography/iStock/Getty Images

Despite seeing a surge in profits —a miracle in itself considering the current retail landscape —  TJX Companies still only manages to pay their employees some of the lowest wages in America. It’s unlikely thin paychecks provide enough worker incentive to combat the never-ending check-out lines typical of the discount retail chain.

Three of its brands, Homegoods T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls also make an appearance on Ranker’s top 25 worst retailers to work for.

Next: Desperate times call for desperate measures

9. Kmart

Kmart store

Kmart takes out their struggles on their employees. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been a long, uphill battle for Kmart, and it seems employees are taking the brunt of the beating. The employees who still have their jobs amidst widespread store closures are forced to endure poor employee compensation since the chain hasn’t had a profitable quarter in years. Kmart makes Ranker’s top five list of worst retailers to work for. Employees have little to say about their work culture on Glassdoor. Kmart is burdened with a 2.7 rating overall. “Work here if desperate” one review says.

Next: A grocer in need of a fresh perspective

10. Fresh Market

Fresh Market grocery store

They have one of the lowest ratings on Glassdoor. | YROGERG77/Wikimedia Commons

When your stores are facing stiff competition from grocery giants like Whole Foods, you’d think upper management would do everything they can to satisfy and retain employees. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. The Fresh Market boasts one of the lowest ratings on Glassdoor, only 2.4, and just 27% of employees would recommend their jobs to others. They say work culture is toxic at the market, but new head honcho, Scott Duggan, has vowed to make it better. We’ll see if it works.

Next: Job seekers should steer clear of this shady company.

11. Forever 21

forever 21

Organizing alone must be a nightmare. | Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for Forever 21

The reasons behind Forever 21’s cheap clothing is shocking. For one, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the retailer for failing to pay in-store hourly workers their wages, especially high-school students who don’t know better. Others cite sweatshop-like conditions in American factories while outsourcing other, lesser-quality manufacturing needs for cheap. And that’s to say nothing of the 50 plus copyright allegations filed against the brand for selling designer knock-offs.

Next: Work here if you like high-stress and low-pay.

12. Family Dollar

Family Dollar

Former employees sued the company. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Like Walgreens, Family Dollar has already been accused of overworking its salaried managers to avoid overtime pay. Underpaid and overworked employees in Pennsylvania actually sued the company for forcing overtime work up to 60 hours without pay, causing many to sleep in the stores overnight. A shocking 26% of employees would recommend their job thanks to a demanding rotating schedule that makes it hard to enjoy life outside of work.

Next: It’s not worth applying to this next company.

13. Dillard’s

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Dillard’s is one of the largest fashion retailers in the country. Yet, employers don’t believe their pay is equal to manager expectations. Glassdoor reviews commonly mention unrealistic sales quotas and little work-life balance at this company. Those looking for an enjoyable retail experience, whether on the sales floor or in management, may want to consider applying elsewhere.

Next: Don’t go jumping ship for this company.

14. Dish

Alberto Rodriguez a Dish Network technician restocks his truck on June 4, 2015 in Miami, Florida

Installing the dish is dangerous work. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Cable and other telecommunications companies rarely score brownie points for customer satisfaction. Just look at Comcast. But it seems some cable companies like Dish fail their employees, too. Field agents despise their working conditions because installing a big dish on a slanting roof is never enjoyable for anyone. And customer relations employees have the distinct pleasure of listening to angry customers vent about their service all day.

Bloomberg notes Dish is one of America’s meanest companies and Glassdoor data backs it up. Negative employee reviews and a lowly 2.6 overall rating make Dish one of the worst companies you can work for.

Next: Is there anything positive about working for this next company? Probably not.

15. Sears

sears shopping cart

They’ve been struggling for years. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Like it’s Kmart cohort, Sears does a poor job of attracting employees. It has struggled to make a profit recently and has closed hundreds of stores as a result. Job insecurity alone can damage even the best worker reputation, but horrific working environments and dubious ethical practices will really drive it home.

Overseas, meager pay and rampant worker abuse have been an issue in the company’s Samoan sweatshops, according to a 2003 report in The Guardian. Domestic employees cite low pay, terrible hours, and excessive pressure to sell credit cards as the worst parts of their job.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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