J.C. Penney Company, Inc. said in a regulatory filing over the weekend that it paid big-dollar bonuses to multiple executive officers within the company just weeks after it announced it would be furloughing the majority of its hourly store associates amid the economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The corporation said in the filing on Sunday that the bonuses were paid to four of its named executives officers (NEO) under a pre-paid compensation plan (PCP) it adopted. The move, the company said, was approved by its board of directors upon “recommendation of its Human Resources and Compensation Committee.”
The move is one of a number of “adjustments” approved by the board to “the company’s existing compensation programs to enable the Company to retain and continue to motivate its named executive officers (“NEOs”) and other employees through the volatile and uncertain environment affecting the retail industry,” it said.
As part of the plan, Jill Soltau, chief executive officer (CEO) of the company received $4.5 million. Separate payments of $1 million were also awarded to Bill Wafford, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Michelle Wlazlo, executive vice president and chief merchant, and Brynn L. Evanson, who is also an executive vice president at the company as well as chief human resources officer.
“As a condition to receiving an award under the PCP each recipient must agree to waive his or her right to participate in the company’s fiscal 2020 annual bonus plan and/or receive any long-term incentive awards for fiscal 2020, as well as forfeit all of his or her outstanding equity, equity-based or other long-term incentive awards," the company said.
The company said the executives will have to repay 80 percent of the bonuses if he or she is fired for “cause” or resigns without “good reason” before the end of next January. They also said 20 percent of the award “is subject to repayment if specified milestone-based performance goals are not achieved.”
The filing comes more than a month after the corporation announced that it had decided to temporarily furlough the majority of its store hourly associates starting April 2 after it closed its stores due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
At the time of the announcement, Soltau said in statement that the company was “making tough, prudent decisions to protect both the safety of our associates and the future of our company.”
According to CNN, the bonuses also come at a time the company is expected to file for bankruptcy after falling behind on debt payments in recent weeks.