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Former QVC employees say they were fired unfairly

Posted August 20, 2009

— A group of former QVC employees terminated after the company’s investigation into suspected irregularities in employees' 401K withdrawals said Thursday they were fired unfairly.

More than 200 employees at the company's Rocky Mount distribution center were turned away from work earlier this month and placed on temporary unpaid leave, pending the outcome of the probe into irregularities in 401K withdrawals.

Employees were notified in a letter on Aug. 5 that they would need to prove the hardship loans were legitimate. Employees were to meet with human resources. Those who could not were subject to discipline, including termination.

Former QVC employee Shirley Kelley Former QVC employees speak

On Wednesday, the company announced that the investigation was complete, but declined to release details about how many people had been terminated.

Company spokeswoman Tara Hunter said, "Out of continued respect for all of our employees, the specifics and results of the investigation and the individual meetings with employees will remain personal and confidential."

“If I say I used it for rent that’s what I used it for. My problem is they know we’re in a recession and they are having a hard time this year. Why don’t they think we’re having a hard time?” former employee Shirley Kelley

"I don't think that's fair because QVC right now still has people in there that should be out here with us," former employee Barbara Pittman said. "I just feel like they totally did us wrong."

A handful of employees gathered at the home of a fellow former employee in Rocky Mount Thursday afternoon.

"They cut our hours and (there were) no raises this year," Kelley said. "We got families."

Former employee Stephanie Williams suggested employees be asked to pay back the money instead of being fired.

"You act like we stole something. This was our money," Williams said.

Williams and other employees said they were notified of their termination through a phone call.

Hunter said employees who returned to work would be paid for any loss of scheduled hours during the investigation.

"As the plan administrator of its 401K Plan, it is QVC's responsibility to ensure that the plan is operating properly and complying with all applicable legal requirements, including the distribution of hardship withdrawals," she said.

"Accordingly, QVC initiated the investigation into the alleged irregularities and took appropriate actions in accordance with its internal operating principles."


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  • SkinsFan Aug 24, 2009

    I think they plucked the ones that the terminated HR employee stated he/she helped send in fake documents.

  • SkinsFan Aug 24, 2009

    So Affirmed- It is like saying sure my client robbed the bank but he had an account there. You can't convict him just because used a gun to make a withdrawl.

    Fasifiying documents would fall under gross misconduct and is certainly a justifiable reason for termination.
    If someone is caught breaking the rules they should be terminated. How can you not agree with that???

  • james27613 Aug 21, 2009

    Wrong, 401k is a tax deferred investment and is appropriate for workers of all ages, the type of fund is what you tailor for your retirement target date.

    the 401k also has a matching amount put into the fund by the employer, from what I have read, qvc matched one dollar for every dollar the worker puts into the plan,
    so that is a 100% return on your initial investment,
    after you are vested.

    "401(k) plans are great if you are planning for 30 years down the road. However, if you need money now, you should opt out of the plan and save the $$$ yourself."

  • affirmativediversity Aug 21, 2009

    I still have a big problem with the idea that QVC perused ALL the 401k accounts...then plucked out ALL the accounts who had a specific kind of transaction (emergency withdrawal)...then PROVISIONALLY FIRED 200 people until they PROVED TO HUMAN RESOURCES the legitimacy of a transaction that IS NONE OF HUMAN RESOURCES BUSINESS!

    No company's HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARTMENT should (or can) be the ADMINISTER OF THE EMPLOYEE'S 401k accounts.

    By the look of this picture for all their VIOLATING OF THEIR EMPLOYEE'S PRIVACY they only netted 8 questionable fish!!!

    They wouldn't want me for one of the other 192 employees who could prove they violated my LEGAL RIGHT TO PRIVACY to go on a OBVIOUS fishing expedition.

  • ImBored Aug 21, 2009

    I like the picture of the people on the porch...makes you feel sorry for them right??? NOT!

  • dlentz2 Aug 21, 2009

    a 1099-R is not a self-employed contractors form. It is the form sent to people who get money from a qualified retirement fund. Getting a loan from a retirement fund is different from getting a withdrawal that is not paid back. Loans are paid back with interest and most of the time the people getting the money are not allowed to add any thing to the fund for a period of time. Now I don't know one way or the other if what QVC did was the right way to handle this but I know that 401k plan are control by government laws and if they got money from their plans there are tax laws that govern that.

  • chrbellm9 Aug 21, 2009

    If they were in such a hardship situation where did all of these employees come up with the $80 cash so quik??? Sad thing is that someone who truely needs this service will have a much harder time to get it now!

  • Go GT Aug 21, 2009

    Well we have had several people take hardships here, and even loans against their 401k and a 1099 (for self employed contractors form) was never sent nor given. We provided them with paperwork from the plan administrator so when they did their taxes they would have to claim the addition funds, but not have the 30+% tax added on it. We have never had an issue with these withdrawals.

  • pinball wizard Aug 21, 2009

    ncken1 - but....they were treated unfairly by that mean old company.

  • dlentz2 Aug 21, 2009

    Also the 1009-R's are coded so the company managing the 401k accounts will code them taxable if they are taxable. And since they are reviewing these withdrawals they can correct the codes to make sure they are coded taxable if they are illegal withdrawals.