JC Penney pays executives millions in “please stay” bonuses, then furloughs thousands of employees

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
By Paul Martin

by: Tracey Watson
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

At 114 years old, Hester Ford is believed to be the oldest living person in the United States. But even she was born after JC Penney and his partners opened their first dry goods store in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

The JC Penney Company is an institution in the United States, with hundreds of stores across the country selling everything from clothing and home furnishings to jewelry and cosmetics.

But JC Penney is in trouble. The coronavirus pandemic has brought the company to its knees financially, and after more than a century in business, the retail giant is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Of course, JC Penney is far from being the only iconic American business pushed to the brink by the outbreak. From smaller mom-and-pop stores, to giants like Neiman Marcus and J. Crew, retailers across the country have seen their businesses decimated by the pandemic and the lockdowns instituted to try to contain it.

But JC Penney now faces outrage from its 90,000 employees, after it emerged recently that despite furloughing the vast majority of its workers, the company recently paid top executives millions of dollars in “please stay” bonuses – money that many feel should have been used to help stabilize the company or support its distressed employees.

A ‘retail apocalypse’

As reported by the Observer, retail sales in the United States experienced their greatest two-month decline in history in March and April, pushing many to the edge of bankruptcy.

JC Penney was facing chapter 11 bankruptcy after missing two repayments on its $4.3 billion debt, and though the company was able to make a single payment last week, its situation remains dire.

With bankruptcy looming and thousands of employees losing their jobs, it certainly seems strange that the company felt that this was a good time to hand out massive payouts to four of its top executives.

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