A law now requires companies to report how their CEOs' salaries compare to the median pay for other employees. At the median, half of workers earn more, half make less.

Staffers of Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison reviewed reports from 225 Fortune 500 corporations and found these 12 have the biggest CEO pay gaps. We count down to a company whose chief made about 5,000 times more than workers.

12. Walmart

HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, USA-October 15, 2015: Walmart 24 hour supercenter in Hallandale Beach Florida. Walmart is the largest retailer in the USA Based in Arkansas
fotomak / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 1,188 times bigger

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon last year earned $22.8 million, the highest payout of all 2.3 million workers at the big-box retail giant. The typical Walmart employee made $19,200 in 2017.

Earlier this year, the company raised its minimum pay in the U.S. to $11 an hour, following years of criticism about its labor practices, pay and benefits.

Walmart's website says members of its store management teams are paid between $50,000 and $170,000 a year — "similar to what firefighters, accountants, and even doctors make."

11. Kohl’s

ANN ARBOR, MI - JANUARY 30: Kohl's, whose south Ann Arbor store is shown on January 30, 2016, has close to 1,200 stores nationwide.
Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 1,264 times bigger

Department store chain Kohl's paid long-time CEO Kevin Mansell more than $11.3 million last year. Mansell has since retired and handed the reins to Michelle Gass.

The median pay for Kohl's workers in 2017 was $8,976.

Kohl's tells federal regulators that 76% of its employees work part time. The National Retail Federation unsuccessfully argued that part-time and seasonal workers should be excluded from companies' median pay calculations.

10. Ross Stores

LA CRESCENTA, CA/USA - JANUARY 9, 2016: Ross Dress For Less store sign. Ross Stores, Inc., is an American chain of off-price department stores.
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 1,314 times bigger

Barbara Rentler was only the 25th woman to ever helm a Fortune 500 company when she was appointed CEO of Ross Stores in 2014. She was paid $12.4 million in 2017.

The typical worker at the discount clothing chain earned $9,400.

Ross says around 79,000 full- and part-time employees work at its more than 1,400 stores.

9. VF

RIVER FALLS,WISCONSIN-JANUARY 20,2014: A pair of Wrangler jeans, The Wrangler brand is owned by VF Corporation of Greensboro, North Carolina.
digitalreflections / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 1,353 times bigger

VF is the North Carolina company behind a long list of clothing and footwear brands. You probably have some of this stuff in your closet: Wrangler and Lee jeans; The North Face coats and jackets; Timberland boots; Vans sneakers.

CEO Steven Rendle got a $13.7 million compensation package in 2017. His workers earned median pay of $10,200.

VF says about a quarter of its workers are part time. In a filing with regulators, the company described its "median employee" as "a part-time, retail associate who was attending a local college."

8. Yum Brands

Shasta, CA - Aug. 13, 2013: Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell fast food restaurants in Shasta, California.
jejim / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 1,358 times bigger

Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed has a lot of responsibility managing over 60,000 employees across several iconic fast food chains, including KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and others.

The company pays him well: Creed took home a yummy compensation package worth about $12.4 million last year. Yum's 60,000 employees earned a median of $9,100.

Yum Brands' China spinoff is broken out separately in the report from Congressman Ellison's staffers. Yum China's CEO was paid about $9.6 million in 2017, while its typical worker was paid just under $4,000.

7. Liberty Interactive

Milan, Italy - November 1, 2017: HSN logo on the website homepage.
Casimiro PT / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 1,810 times bigger

Greg Maffei was paid over $47.8 million in 2017 when he was CEO of Liberty Interactive, the parent company of the HSN and QVC shopping channels and websites.

Employees in the middle of the company's pay pack earned about $26,400.

Liberty Interactive is now called Qurate Retail Group, and there's a new CEO in charge. Maffei is now chairman.

6. Hanesbrands

Toronto, Canada - January 28 2015 : Pair of Folded Cotton Hane's Brand Men's Boxer Briefs Underwear shown on a bright background
Christopher Gardiner / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 1,830 times bigger

Hanesbrands CEO Gerald Evans Jr. probably gets all the free T-shirts and underwear he wants. But, with his annual compensation of around $9.6 million, Evans could easily afford hundreds of thousands of pairs of skivvies each year.

His employees took home median pay of only $5,237 last year.

Hanesbrands tells regulators it pays "market-based wages" that vary from place to place. It describes its typical employee who earns median pay as "an equipment operator located in a supply chain facility in Honduras."

5. ManpowerGroup

Dax, France - June 5, 2017: Manpower logo on a wall. ManpowerGroup is the third-largest staffing firm in the world behind Swiss firm Adecco and Dutch firm Randstad
ricochet64 / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 2,483 times bigger

ManpowerGroup is known as a go-to for temporary help. So maybe it's not so surprising that the staffing firm has one of the lowest median pay rates in the study: just $4,828 per year.

CEO Jonas Prising, on the other hand, earns a staggering $12 million.

PayScale reports that ManpowerGroup pays an average of $15 an hour, though some highly skilled workers can make more than $50 an hour.

4. Live Nation Entertainment

MADRID - SEP 13: Crowd in a concert at Dcode Festival on September 13, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 2,893 times bigger

The highest-paid CEO in this ranking is Michael Rapino of Live Nation, the largest live entertainment business in America — and maybe a company you love to hate. (Who charges a delivery fee on self-printed tickets?)

The concert promoter, arena operator and parent of Ticketmaster rewarded Rapino to the tune of $70.6 million last year.

The typical Live Nation employee earned $24,400.

3. Gap

HONG KONG - CIRCA SEPTEMBER, 2016: close up shot of GAP sign in Hong Kong. GAP is an American worldwide clothing and accessories retailer.
Sorbis / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 2,900 times bigger

It's true: Gap Inc. is one of the companies with a wide pay gap.

The retail clothing giant paid CEO Art Peck nearly $15.6 million for his time and talents in the C-suite last year. By comparison, the typical worker in the company's Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores made $5,400.

Gap has paid its largely part-time U.S. workforce at least $10 an hour since 2015.

2. McDonald's

BANGKOK - SEPTEMBER 22 :  ronald-mcdonald at  McDonald's restaurant on September 22, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand
Ratana21 / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 3,101 times bigger

CEO Steve Easterbrook earns nearly $21.8 million as the leader of the most recognizable fast-food chain on Earth. That would buy a lot of McDoubles, even without Easterbrook's likely staff discount!

His employees typically take home far, far less: a little over $7,000 per year.

McDonald's is known for relying on part-time help. For years, Mickey D's has faced strikes and other protests demanding it pay its workers at least $15 an hour. Instead, the company has beefed up education benefits for employees.

1. Mattel

Soest, Germany - January 12, 2018: Barbie Toys for sale in the Supermarket Stand. Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959.
Lutsenko_Oleksandr / Shutterstock

CEO pay vs. worker pay: 4,987 times bigger

Mattel — the giant toymaker best known for its Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars — doesn't play around when it comes to compensating its top executive. As a result, the company has the largest CEO-to-worker pay gap in this study.

Then-CEO Margo Georgiadis was paid just under $31.3 million in 2017. That's about 5,000 times more than the median pay of Mattel workers, which is just under $6,300 a year.

Mattel told CNN that more than half of its employees work at manufacturing plants in Asia. The company also explained that Georgiadis made so much because she was given hefty one-time stock grants when she joined the company last year.

About the Author

Tom Huffman

Tom Huffman

Freelance Contributor

Tom is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

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