rude boss wants his personal errands run

A reader writes:

I’m a 40-year-old woman working for a 28-year-old man, who likes to micromanage and who I believe is bipolar but of course am not 100% sure. I’ve been working for him for 2-1/2 years and since day one have been miserable. When I interviewed for him, he was a completely different person, nice, considerate and seemed genuine. Since then, I can not believe one word he says.

When I started, I signed an agreement that stated I would receive 2 weeks of PTO and the major holidays off. I also signed a company handbook which breaks out vacation, PTO and holidays as 2 weeks of vacation days, 2 days of PTO for personal use and 3 days of sick PTO, along with the major holidays. I have used up my vacation and unfortunately had to take 2 days of sick, which I’m told will not be paid. I stated that in the company handbook that I signed off on, it stated 2 weeks vacation, 2 days PTO and 3 days sick. He said that I needed to negotiate this at the time of employment.

Now this would not have been so hard to listen to if he wasn’t such a jerk to me. When I was hired, I was hired as an office manager. Since then, I have been asked to do my boss’s laundry, clean his truck out, pick up and pay for his tux for a wedding, take his truck to get a tire fixed and oil changes several times and he usually always picks a day it is raining out so I get drenched and then chuckles when I get back, and run other personal errands for him. The one thing that irritated me the most when he was putting some bagels away in plastic bags in our break room and he was almost completed when I came around the corner. He saw me and in the most rude voice, he dropped all of the bagels back into the brown bag, dropped the plastic bags, and said , “Here, you do this” and walked away. I also have found that if I don’t high-five him or give him the knuckle hit or hug him when he goes out of town, I’m treated worse.

Any suggestions about the vacation? Am I entitled to this PTO and would I have a law case against him for the way I’m treated? I am the only female in the company and I hate using the woman card, but I hate coming in everyday wondering what is he going to ask today.

Oh jeez. Let’s break this down:

First, on the PTO issue, if a different PTO arrangement was negotiated with you as part of your salary and benefits package, it could trump the policy in the company handbook. However, I’m not a lawyer and I’m not positive about this, and it likely depends on the wording of your hire agreement and the wording of the handbook. Does your company have an HR department you can ask about this? I’d start there. If not, or if that ends up not being helpful, you could certainly call a lawyer who specializes in employment issues. (Or do any smart readers know more definitively?)

Second, on the issue of your boss asking you to run his personal errands: First, we need clarification on whether this is legitimately part of the job or not. So:

1. You could sit down with him and ask for clarification about your responsibilities and priorities. Tell him you hadn’t realized that running errands for him would be a component of the job and that you’ve tried to be accommodating but that you’re concerned about it cutting into your other duties. Tell him that when he asks you to run errands for him, it means you have to neglect x and y, and ask if the company is okay with that.

2. I’m curious to know if his boss would be okay with this guy assigning you his personal errands. Depending on the dynamics of the company and your relationship with others, you might try to find out. There are some jobs where this would be acceptable, and others where it wouldn’t be. It would be good to find out which yours is.

3. What would happen if the next time he asked you to run a personal errand, you simply said politely, “I’m sorry, but I’ve got to finish up this project”? (This is why you need more official clarification on what the expectations are for your position.)

But really, none of the above will change the fact that this guy is a jerk and will likely always be a jerk to you. Honestly, I’d start looking around at other jobs. There’s no reason to put up with being treated that way and you shouldn’t forget that you have options. You’re not stuck putting up with this crap.

{ 6 comments… read them below }

  1. Krupo*

    Not to mention the compulsion to hug – sounds like borderline sexual harassment too. Ugly situation.

    I would be looking for another job if I were in her shoes… of course that seems to be my answer to everything.

  2. Wally Bock*

    The key to the answer is “this guy is a jerk and will likely always be a jerk to you.”

    But another thing jumped out at me: “I’ve been working for him for 2-1/2 years and since day one have been miserable.”

    So I have two questions. If it’s so awful why are you still there? And “Why have you waited til now to thrash out this issue?”

  3. Rachel - Employment File*

    I agree with Wally. The first question that came to my mind was why the employee let this start in the first place. Of course if the boss can get away with it he will. She let the pattern go on for years and has no right to complain about it now.

  4. Dataceptionist*

    I disagree with Wally and Rachel here, and think there is nothing to be gained now from simply telling the woman that she should never have let it start.

    Sometimes things like this start as getting coffee and gradually the weird requests keep coming but you don’t feel in a position to say anythign for fear of looking petty.

    The important part is that you’ve stopped, looked back at all these things and decided you don’t feel comfortable doing them.

    I think AaM’s advice here is spot on, try to find out whether they’re really tasks you’ve meant to be doing, and take it from there. Then you can make an informed decision about whether you want to keep doing them if they ARE part of your job. If they aren’t your job, you can feel confident about putting your foot down.
    I’d look for a new job too :)

  5. HR Godess*

    I think you need to decide what you feel most comfortable with. If you don’t mind doing the errands but don’t appreciate his attitude, it’s worth having a conversation to see if the latter improves.

    If it gets under your skin that you have to do errands at all, then you need to decide if this job is worth how you are feeling.

    It’s a tough situation but it is possible to turn it around. It does require a “confrontation” of sorts and of course, be the most polite you can be but you just never know how someone else is going to react.

    Good luck in your decision.

  6. almostgotit*

    Yes, she does too have the right to complain. All of us get into little co-dependent things from time to time, and all of us have the right to get out of them, too.

    Something will have to change first, though. And someone will have to instigate that change. If the reader is really ready to use the permission *SHE ALREADY HAS* to seek change, I suspect she’ll need a little more support than a few words on a blog. Change is much harder than most of us care to admit.

    Go get that support, and instigate change if you want it, reader. You’ve been free to change all along. All we really can do here is remind you that you are…

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