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    18 Unethical Bosses Who Turned Their Work Environments Into Waking Nightmares For Employees

    Just, wow.

    We recently shared stories from members of the BuzzFeed Community who worked for problematic bosses and companies. The comments filled with even more shocking stories of hostile, unethical, and toxic workplaces. Here are more of those disturbing stories:

    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."

    —Anonymous

    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."

    "Any cats that got brought in would be turned loose in the streets" over stray cats
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    —Anonymous

    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."

    —Anonymous

    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."

    "He followed me, got right in my face, and screamed at me for being lazy and ungrateful" over a rotting pepper
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    "I got off my shift, and the manager said he'd call me. I didn't hear back for a week, so I called. Still nothing. I finally went in after 14 days of waiting and said, 'Hey, it's cool if you're not going to hire me, but can I at least get the $25 for the two hours I worked that you said you'd pay me for?' The manager kept snapping at me for being lazy and disrespectful, and couldn't believe I'd show up demanding money. He finally handed me the money, and I said, 'Thank you. That wasn't so hard. I'm glad you didn't hire me — with that garbage attitude,' then walked out. He followed me, got right in my face, screamed at me for being lazy and ungrateful, called me the c-word, and threatened to beat me up so bad that I couldn't be recognized. Thankfully, my nail salon was right next door, and my nail lady ran out, said I was late for my appointment, pulled me inside, and locked the door. She offered to call the police, and sat me down with a cup of tea until my mom came to pick me up. I was 18. My family has never been back to that grocer."

    —Anonymous

    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."

    —Anonymous

    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."

    "She constantly belittled her employees" over an angry woman about to yell
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    "Another instance was when one of our part-time managers, who had already put in her two weeks' notice, showed up at our store to inform our boss that her father had just died and that she would have to quit immediately. This girl was standing there in tears, and my boss said, 'Well, who is going to finish your shifts?' Just an awful, awful lady. I ended up getting her fired four months before I quit myself. The company knew how she was and didn’t care. It finally took contacting HR to get the ball rolling."

    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."

    —Anonymous

    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."

    "Everything was based around those fucking standardized tests" over an empty classroom
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    egc26

    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."

    vw71squareback

    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."

    "The customers paid $120 for spoiled wine" over a shelf of wine
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    —Anonymous

    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."
    —Anonymous

    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."

    "I don't know how they ever passed a health inspection" over coffee being made
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    "There were so many more signs of cross-contamination in that place. I don't know how they ever passed a health inspection. I knew they would never listen to the 'new girl,' especially when the manager had been running the place for 20 years, and I didn’t want to stick around to see if I could change anything. I’m so glad I quit right away."

    —Anonymous

    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."

    —Anonymous

    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!"

    "She was getting ‘free’ money from her employees" over hands pulling money out of a wallet
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    —Anonymous

    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."

    —Anonymous

    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."

    "I was told to lie and tell the families that I had allergies" over a woman blowing her nose
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    —Anonymous

    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."

    —Anonymous

    18. Finally: "I worked for a popular coffee shop, inside a very well-known store chain. It was my second job, and when I was hired, I was very clear about my availability and that I could not work Mondays. A few months after starting the job, I got scheduled for a Monday. I went to management to let them know that I couldn’t work the shift, but was told I was required to work it because it was a holiday (4th of July) and I was still a new-hire. I was hired at the same time as six other people, and they weren't all being forced to work. I explained that my other job had requested for me to work that day already and I had agreed, so I couldn’t be in two places at once. The manager told me that I had to choose between my two jobs because if I wasn’t at work the following Monday, I would be fired and I would never be able to work for the nationwide chain again."

    "I would never be able to work for the nationwide chain again" over a screaming boss raising his fist
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    —Anonymous

    Have you ever worked for a problematic boss or workplace? Share your experience in the comments, or submit anonymously to this form.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.