Some playground bullies grow up, wear suits and become bosses, but don't really grow up at all.
That's the type of person who would become an attorney at a prominent Richmond, Va., law firm and -- allegedly
-- put a cucumber in his pants, hug a female employee and shove it into her thigh. And then laugh.
But there's an organization named BossWatch
, founded by Asher Adelman in 2007, that's determined to help job seekers avoid these toxic bosses
like the cucumber-pusher (pictured).
BossWatch (tagline: "Nobody should have to work with a jerk") provides a platform for employees to sound off on these bosses and anonymously rate individual bosses, "using a respectable and focused evaluation form
." BossWatch also assembled a panel of workplace experts which selected and ranked the 25 Worst Bosses of 2009
Adelman spoke with Asylum to get his hand-picked list of the most shocking and appalling boss stories, as well as some advice for dealing with awful bosses.
-- Bank of New York Mellon -- Secaucus, N.J.
The bank's vice president and supervising assistant manager were accused by the New Jersey Attorney General's office
of racial and sexual harassment that included name-calling and derogatory comments about the victim's sexual orientation. The victim's complaints to management allegedly fell on deaf ears, and he claims that he was ultimately fired for complaining.
-- American Legion Post -- Wheaton, Minn.
The female kitchen manager was accused of sexually harassing
a male bartender, grabbing his groin, trying to kiss him, and sexually propositioning him. The victim's complaints to supervisors were not investigated, and the victim ultimately quit several months later after developing ulcers and suffering from nightmares and depression. In a settlement
negotiated with the Dept. of Human Rights, the Wheaton American Legion agreed to pay the victim $10,000.
-- Alamos Verdes Restaurant -- Arvada, Colo.
The 57-year-old male co-owner allegedly sexually harassed
and groped a 16-year-old female employee. He was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the repeated acts, and for then firing her in retaliation after she complained about the abuse.
Stanford Professor Robert Sutton and author of "The No A**hole Rule
" describes these productivity- and morale-sapping bosses as -- you guessed it -- a**holes. Unfortunately, Sutton says there are a lot of them in the modern workplace. You may even work for one. They thrive on aggression, make demeaning remarks and create hostile work environments.
While the above are some of the worst cases, it doesn't mean that less-severe incidents of abuse are excusable. "The main thing," Adelman says, "you want to get out of a toxic workplace as quickly as possible. It's rare for an employee to be able to change a work environment or impact a person and make them change their behavior."
"Even in a tough economy," Adelman adds, "it's not worth a person's well being to be stuck in an abusive environment. While an employee is still there, they should document everything that happens -- every one of the boss's comments and abusive actions. Copy emails and voice messages too, so they're available if it becomes necessary to file a complaint."
And don't forget the universal rule that applies to all -- don't be an a**hole. Don't attempt to get back at your boss by cucumber-poking him/her with a bigger and/or sharpened cucumber.