18 Unethical Bosses Who Turned Their Work Environments Into Waking Nightmares For Employees
1. "I discovered my boss was stealing around $8,000 of my salary a year. She was classifying my position and pay differently in budgeting reports to the federal and state government, and that difference was going directly to her salary. I confronted her, and after much resistance, it was corrected, but it didn't come without retaliation. I was also denied the back-pay she had stolen from me. She retaliated relentlessly and gave me a poor performance review. My coworkers were also asked to review me and provided high scores that didn't match hers. I was also monitored every hour and given frivolous tasks. In my state, it is legal to record conversations you are participating in without consent of the other party, so I began recording our conversations to document how bad the harassment was."
"When she found out I was recording, she sought legal council, so I had to get a lawyer. HR did nothing to help me and was only there to protect the misconduct of management. Remember this — corruption is a chain. On my last day, they also tried to audit me. All I did was try to fight for what I was worth and avoid exploitation. My boss was embezzling money and faced no punishment at all. My advice to anyone facing these issues at work is to leave immediately. I spoke with lawyers who told me that there is rarely any accountability when it comes to workplace misconduct from management. It makes me sick that I was gaslit and treated this way for fighting for correct compensation."
2. "I worked for an animal welfare organization for a little over a month. They’d done a 'bait and switch' on my job. They advertised themselves as a 'no kill' shelter, but they weren’t. They’d write down 'quality of life issue' and put down many animals. Any cats that got brought in would be turned loose in the streets. They were always asking for donations of food, and you could supposedly get free food from them if you couldn’t afford to buy it, but most of the donations went home with the employees. They were racists, too, denying treatment or charging more for POC."
3. "I worked for a company that was contracted to a major company everyone knows. This company forced mandatory overtime to a ridiculous degree. I had paychecks with over 100 hours on them sometimes. I had days where I left at dawn (I was supposed to be off at 9 p.m.), and we would be expected to return at 9 a.m. because they needed overtime. June is the company’s fiscal-year close, where the overtime gets its worst. The last June I worked, there were nine ambulances called over the course of the month from people being overworked to the point of collapse. We hired a bunch of new people to cover the extra hours, and tragically one of the people I was assisting through training developed a blood clot and died immediately upon reaching the hospital. The company did not mention her death."
4. "I got asked to come in to a local, green grocery store to do a working interview for two to four hours, and the manager promised I would get paid for my time regardless if I got hired or not. I hadn't been inside the store in a while, and when I went in, the place was disgusting. There were spills and swarms of fruit flies everywhere. They had me put out new peppers that they'd just gotten in, and every single one was moldy at the stem, or fully rotting. I told the person I was shadowing I didn't feel comfortable putting them out, and the manager snapped that they were fine and said, 'These idiots will buy anything.' He was snappy and rude to the staff and customers the entire time I was there."
5. "I worked for a well-known convenience store chain where we were required to take checks from customers. If a customer's check bounced, the amount of the bounced check was deducted from our pay."
6. "I worked at a retail store as an assistant manager. My boss (store manager) was an awful human being. The turnover rate for her assistants was astronomical. She had worked there for 11 years when I got placed under her. We worked inside of a mall, and on her days off, she would stalk us from the stores across the hall, or she’d make friends with other store managers and have them watch us. She constantly belittled her employees. Once, I discovered I had a lump growing inside of my throat, and I went to an ENT who suggested we biopsy it to make sure it wasn’t cancer. When I went to my boss to request time off (months in advance) and explained what was going on, she said she had dinner plans that night that she couldn’t get out of. This was THREE months in advance."
7. "I worked in the kitchen of a nursing home for precisely three hours. I'd been sent to take lunch orders from the dementia wing and came back with 15 orders for a chicken dinner. The manager said, 'We only have nine. We'll give some of them a teacake. They won't remember eating anyway.' I walked out and reported them to the authorities in that instant."
8. "One of the most toxic places I've ever worked was an elementary school. I was a long-term substitute for the entire school year until COVID-19 shut down schools. None of their policies benefitted the students. Everything was based around those fucking standardized tests. The other teachers literally told me it was OK to skip history and science because the students weren't tested on those subjects for the standardized tests. When the school offered tutoring, I logically thought it was for the students who needed the most help. Apparently, I was wrong. I was told it was for the students who were on the verge of testing well on those stupid standardized tests. A teacher actually told me that the kids who didn't test well were 'too stupid,' and tutoring would be wasted on them. I did not listen, and instead offered it to the students who needed the most help."
9. "I worked at a department store in my late teens/early 20s. One year, we had record snowfall in Minnesota, and there were many days the freeways and the mall would close. It got to the point that almost every weekend was a blizzard, and my boss decided he was tired of not making money. I called that morning, assuming we would be closed again. Nope. He wanted me to go in. My car was literally covered with snow. I mean, the snow was almost chest deep, and a drift had covered the roof of my car. I told my boss, and he said he would pick me up in his truck. Well, he did, and I had to wade through thigh-deep snow to get to the end of my driveway to get to a job that paid $5.25 an hour. We had two customers that day: the owners of the Chinese Buffet in the mall who were so bereft of customers themselves that they closed their place and came to window-shop at ours. Then my boss left early, forgetting that he'd driven me, and I had to walk home."
10. "I worked at a liquor store. The owner got a bunch of close-out wines from the distributors for $5–$10. Half of the bottles were spoiled. She put them together in a $120 Groupon deal and claimed it was worth $200. The customers paid $120 for $30 of spoiled wine. After I quit, she ran the business into the ground. The location is now a bank."
11. "I worked as a weekday producer at a large cable news company. The CEO was a tyrant. I put up with him for years, but my final straw was when I went on vacation. I’d requested three days off for a trip with my husband and kids (my first vacation in over a year) months in advance. It was approved by HR. I even told him several times during the weeks before the trip that I’d be leaving. He ignored it and nodded, so it never seemed to be an issue. The day before my trip, I had instructions for my fill-in and went to give him a copy. He looked up at me incredulously and said, 'You can’t go away.' After a debate and pulling up several emails, he said he’d personally call HR and tell them to reject my PTO."
"Our HR director intervened and told me to go after he begrudgingly accepted it. While on the trip, he called me constantly, emailed me five or more times a day, and asked me to send him scripts. The morning I returned, his deputy called me into his office and informed me that I was being demoted because the CEO was upset that I’d not responded to his last two emails (on a late Sunday evening while I was on a four-hour flight home). I quit on the spot."
12. "I have a lot of barista experience, and one year thought I’d get back into coffee and take a part-time second job at a little coffee shop. My first day, I came in for 'training' and quit after three horrifying hours. There was no septic line set up, so everything was collected in buckets under the cupboards that employees had to scoop into other buckets and take outside to be dumped. This meant that every bit of water you used added to the buckets, so I was told handwashing was discouraged! This also meant rinsing out pitchers for steamed milk was discouraged, so they sat out on the counter. On top of this, the 'sanitizing' rags were never laundered, just soaked in a bucket of bleach water overnight! Those old, milky rags may not have been washed for years."
13. "I worked for a law firm once. I was a paralegal, so I had to bill a certain number of hours a day and account for every minute outside of those hours as well. When I asked what I should do when I had to go to the bathroom, they told me I’d have to work late to make up for every minute I was in the bathroom."
14. "When it was an employee’s birthday, the boss would pay for lunch. Then, the other employees had to pay her back in cash for what their lunch cost was. She was able to write off the whole cost of the lunch. She was getting ‘free’ money from her employees. She was a dentist, and as her staff, we made her a lot of money. She could afford to pay for the meal and not get paid back by the employees. Sickening!"
15. "I worked for a big bulk retailer chain. They expected people who worked up front to push customers into upgrading their membership and also applying for a credit card. They expected you to pull in numbers, and would 'coach' you if you didn’t harass customers into saying yes. The particular store I worked at would even resort to harassing employees into opening a credit card, just to boost the numbers. You were expected to lie to and manipulate customers into saying yes. I witnessed a lot of illegal and unethical behavior. I quit after less than a year."
16. "I had a job where I worked with young children, leading music and drama classes. One day, I tried to call out sick because I had a bad cold with very obvious symptoms and didn't want to pass them on to the kids. I was told there was no one to cover for me and to lie and tell the families that I had allergies. I quit as soon as I had a chance. The company was shut down for tax fraud not too long after."
17. "I worked at a bargain outlet. They would mandate overtime but did not want to pay for it, so they would make you take extended breaks in order not to pay overtime."