So, Wait, Does Urban Outfitters Really Not Have an HR Department?

The Philly-based multinational is one weird company.

Last week, we told you about a controversial flex-time policy change at Urban Outfitters that had outraged some of the parents who worked there. The one part of the story that had us the most perplexed was this: The employees we spoke with all claimed that Urban Outfitters does not have a human resources department for them to go to with their complaints.

We scratched our head for a while over this claim. How could a multi-national, publicly traded company be without an HR department — especially when that company had gotten a lot of flak in the past for its labor practices?

But the employees we talked to swore up and down that there is no HR department at Urban Outfitters.

OK, so they don’t have anything called “The HR Department,” but certainly they have something just like an HR department, right? Nope, the employees told us. According to them, there’s nothing even remotely resembling an HR department at Urban Outfitters — other than a “Talent Acquisition” department, which hires you and then says goodbye. After that, say the employees, if you have a problem, you have to go to your manager.

“And that makes things a little difficult when your complaint is about your manager,” one employee pointed out to us. (The numerous employees who spoke with us all did so under the condition of anonymity.)

A former employee who worked at the Urban Outfitters headquarters several years ago told us that he was there when the company eliminated its HR department.

“Oh, they definitely had one,” he insists. “It was a big deal at the time, them getting rid of it. We were all like, Who are we supposed to go to now?

We asked Urban Outfitters to comment on our flex-time story. Eventually, after our article had been published, they sent us an email refuting parts of the story but, interestingly, not the assertion that Urban Outfitters does not have an HR department. We replied asking for clarification on this point but received no response.

In an internal email to Urban Outfitters staff, management told employees that the Philly Mag article was fake news, although it didn’t deny that the company has no HR department. According to the email, Urban Outfitters has a longstanding “Open Door Policy” (caps theirs) as well as 1-800-NOW-PREV, a “hotline” for employees to use to voice concerns.

We tried calling 1-800-NOW-PREV repeatedly and each time, it went straight to voicemail, where some guy tells you to leave your information after the beep. It doesn’t in any way identify itself as being associated with Urban Outfitters.

“It’s all bullshit,” an employee told us when we asked about the hotline and supposed Open Door Policy. “The bottom line is that Urban doesn’t care about its employees one bit.”

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter