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Imagine you’re at work and you get a call that your mother died. Then imagine your boss saying you might as well stay at the office the rest of the day—there’s nothing you can do because she’s dead anyway.

Even worse: That true scenario from Amy in Florida is just one of the many workplace horror stories piling in for this year’s My Bad Boss Contest. Now in its third year, the contest for the nation’s worst boss, sponsored by the AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America, provides a frightening look at the demons on the other side of the cubicle.

The contest runs through Aug. 19 and offers suffering employees a chance to win the first prize, a week’s free stay at a condo in one of more than 50 countries, plus $1,000 toward airfare and other travel/trip expenses. Second prize is a week’s free stay at a condo in one of more than 50 countries and $500 toward airfare or other travel/trip expenses.

(You can read stories here as they come in, and vote for those you think are particularly egregious.)

Every year, it seems impossible employers and supervisors could get any worse.  

But every year, the bad bosses keep coming back.

In fact, a survey conducted for Working America estimates that some 15 million of us work for bad bosses. In the Lake Research Partners survey, 10 percent of the respondents say they had bad bosses, the equivalent of 15 million workers in the nation’s workforce. In addition, 36 percent say they feel pressure to stay with a bad boss because of today’s worsening economy.

Last year, Pete received 1,276 votes from visitors to the Bad Boss site and beat out five other semifinalists, including a waitress whose boss knowingly hired her stalker. Pete’s boss callously threw away his employee’s paid leave paperwork, leaving him without paid leave or disability benefits for those days. The father of three small children was battling a rare form of cancer and needed paid leave to help pay his family’s bills.
 
In 2006, the worst of the bad bosses was the millionaire dentist who, because so many patients canceled appointments on Sept. 11, 2001, took the money he would have made that day out of his employees’ paychecks.

Even though the My Bad Boss Contest has been public for only a few days, hundreds of entries already have been submitted, including one from the woman who suffered a miscarriage at work and whose boss told her he felt God wasn’t giving her any babies of her own so she could help mentor other people’s children. Then there’s Raven who, while on the job as a security guard, was hit by a semi-truck and had difficulty breathing—but his boss wouldn’t let him go the hospital until his replacement arrived.

Working Mule in Pennsylvania represents yet another casualty of the nation’s mortgage crisis: The man who owned the mortgage firm where he worked declared bankruptcy and refuses to pay the tens of thousands of dollars he owes his employees.

Every now and then, an employee preyed upon by management’s stupidity, cruelty and irrationality gets a chance to respond. Shana from Michigan is one of them. She writes that one day her boss

pulled me aside and said she had seen a doctor, then proceeded to pull a bottle of pills out and poured them on the desk—she picked out some small yellow ones and instructed me to force her to take two of those kinds if she ever "really wigged out."

Looking down at the pills I noticed there were about 15 different types in the bottle and asked what they were for, she said she had "multiple" issues.

Another time she called me and gave me a assignment which I started on, I called her back after reviewing additional material and asked some follow up questions (her first instructions did not align with the documents). I went back to the assignment only to find her answers didn’t make sense. I called her once again and asked if I could come and see her—by this time the production manager had joined me as it affected his area—upon arriving at her office, I was showing her the materials I found and explained why her instructions didn’t make sense. She jumped up from her chair, got about two inches from my face and screamed (yes, screamed): WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SO @#!&ING DIFFICULT—READ MY #@$&ING MIND AND GET IT DONE!! I left her office, went to HR and gave my notice on the spot, went back to her office, opened her pill bottle, dumped them all out and told her she needed a heavy dose of all or some of them and left.

Bet that felt good.

Click here to enter the My Bad Boss Contest, here to read more stories and here for the Bad Boss survey and report.

Tula Connell

Tula Connell

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