vote for the worst boss of 2011

We’ve had plenty of bad boss stories this year, and here are eight of the worst.

On Saturday, we’ll crown the worst boss of the year, based on your votes … so please vote in the sidebar to the right. (Voting ends Friday at midnight.) Here are the contenders:

1. The boss who kept stealing employees’ lunches even after being asked to stop (leaving our highly allergic reader without anything to eat for the day)

2. The boss who demanded a doctor’s note when an employee wanted to move her desk three feet within her own cubicle

3. The employer who insisted on written permission from a supervisor for more than three bathroom breaks a day

4. The boss who allowed an employee to constantly sleep on the job, and who suggested that annoyed coworkers “drop a big book” if they wanted to wake her up

5. The boss who refused to give employees lists of the clients they were contractually obligated to serve

6. The boss who constantly made jokes about anorexia, told our reader that she’s “only a girl” and he didn’t expect much out of her, and warned her about what people would think if she went to lunch with male coworkers

7. The manager who was trying to find out who had “betrayed” another employee by reporting suspected child abuse

8. The manager who ran a contest for employees where they could win $10 by guessing which of their coworkers would be fired next

{ 42 comments… read them below }

  1. Liz T*

    While some of them count as “worst people, who are bosses,” #5 has to be the one who’s “worst at being a boss.”

    1. Unmana*

      “While some of them count as “worst people, who are bosses,” #5 has to be the one who’s “worst at being a boss.””

      Exactly what I thought.

    2. fposte*

      Good differentiation. And honestly, the others I can at least project myself into enough to find a rationale for the behavior that makes it make sense to the individual–this one I can’t manage that with.

      So maybe we should have a “Miss/Mr. Uncongeniality” award for the one who’s simply the worst person?

  2. Anonymous*

    7. The manager who was trying to find out who had “betrayed” another employee by reporting suspected child abuse

    Without a doubt this is the worst person!!

  3. Shayna*

    So hard, I agree, lots of terrible human beings on this list. My gut says to go with Captain Pee Monitor.

  4. Shackleford Hurtmore*

    It’s hard to pick just one, since all those managers appear to be weird. Even when taking into account that the retelling may have missed out important context, I still can’t understand how these managers are thinking. It would be fascinating to put some of these managers into analysis and then read their case files afterwards to find out why they believe it is acceptable to act this way.

  5. ChristineH*

    I was torn among several of these, but I ended up voting for #6, just based on the “where are they now” update alone.

  6. NJB*

    Hard to choose, they are all horrid people, but I think I’m going to have to go with the Pee Master. What a stupid way to address performance problems (if any)…

    1. Anonymous*

      Pee Master! Classic. But personally, I prefer Skat Man.

      I do agree he is the worst boss, though. Monitoring an employee’s bathroom habits is really shitty.

  7. Bob G*

    I agree with everyone else there are too many horrible bosses here to choose from. Since I had to choose only 1 I went with #7. To perform a “witch hunt” at work over who reported (rightfully) suspected child abuse is ridiculous. The fact that HR backed up the first manager’s witch hunt make the choice clear. HR should have told the 1st manager to butt out and let the authorities decide if the charges had merit, but it appears that they choose to continue the hunt.

    I think next year this needs to be done in a bracket like March Madness, much easier to pick between two and let them battle it out until the end. Instead of regions they could start out grouped by 4 types: lazy, unethical, micro-managers, and clueless.

    1. Erin*

      I love this idea and fully support it! It would allow for more posts, and more thoughtful discussion from commenters! (Though I very rarely comment, I check this site almost every day!)

  8. Anonymous*

    I went with the guy who ran the betting about who would be fired next.

    They’re all stupid, but that guy is stupid and mean, which is a lethal combination.

    And I think the Pee Monitor could also be called the Pee Nazi. “No pee for you!”

  9. Anonymous*

    I have 3 worsts:

    The boss who told our reader that she’s “only a girl”
    The boss who refused to give employees client lists
    The employer who insisted on permission for more 3 bathroom breaks a day

    …but I ended up choosing “only a girl”

  10. Anonymous*

    My three choices are:
    “Only a girl” boss
    Pee Master
    Lunch Thief

    Don’t make me choose because it would be a laundry list on each one!

  11. Sandrine*

    I chose the one about suspected child abuse, because it’s not just about the boss and the employee but the welfare of children.

    The boss in that story agrees that there are concerns with the private life of the person who was reported, yet the OP would be the one punished ? I sure as heck would like an update on this one.

    This is not betrayal, and I would be horrified to work with a company that would be “participating” , so to speak, in such an abusive situation. Ugh.

  12. Scott Woode*

    In the case of Employer vs. Good Anonymous Samaritan, I have to say I found the story indicative of not only bad leadership and management but also poor understanding of the ethics involved with the situation. It truly is uncalled for that the OP would have to suffer for speaking out about suspected child abuse. What’s more, I fail to see the distinction between a co-worker who does this and the child’s teacher. Would we fire the teacher for speaking out? No, because that is part of their job as both an educator and a decent human being. Should we fire the coworker? Absolutely not, because she is being a decent human being. While she doesn’t have the same direct involvement in the child’s life, it does stand to reason that if you see something indicative of possible abuse in the physical appearance or behavior of either the abuser or the victim, you should say something without fear of retribution.

    I, too, would like an update about the present goings-on for the OP during this horrid debacle. My heart goes out to her, but mostly to the poor child who is going through something so scary and confusing.

  13. Long Time Admin*

    I really cannot pick any one as the THE worst. If I had to work for any of them, I would have daydreams about going after each one of them with a machete.

    My two worst bosses are real wussies compared to these 7. One was so afraid of upper management that he wouldn’t make any decisions to avoid making a wrong one, and the other one we suspected of having had a stroke because his behavior had become so odd and inappropriate. I guess I’ve had it pretty easy in this respect.

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree. My worst bosses have been those who cannot stand up to their employees and/or play favorites.

  14. Dawn*

    I voted for #2, the boss who wanted a doctor’s note so the employee could move her desk three feet. All the people on this list are jerks, but I chose this one (so hard to choose!). It’s bad enough that the employee’s boss wouldn’t let her move the monitor, but to then have to run it up the ladder two levels was just ridiculous. Managers shouldn’t be managers if they can’t make a decision. I imagine this person stands there like a deer in the headlights when asked “paper or plastic?” at the grocery store. And of course the higher-up who wanted a doctor’s note to move the desk is a control freak.

  15. GeekChic*

    #7 (dirty lens: I’ve worked with abused children before and testified in court against parents later found guilty of abuse)

    Runner-up: #3.

  16. Anji*

    I’ve voted for #1. Of course, it’s not as serious a situation as some of the others, but I know if I go into a supermarket and take a sandwich without paying for it, they’re going to call the police. There’s no possible justification for stealing your staff’s food!

  17. Ruby*

    Thank goodness someone suggested separating the “lousy human beings” from the “lousy bosses”. Still a tough call; I think hey all need to go to Remedial Manager School followed by grad classes at the Human Being Academy.

  18. Anonymous*

    A three way tie: 4, 7, and 8 are my votes!!!
    However my EX boss takes the cake when she pretended to LIKE me, only to use what I told her to FIRE ME! May She rot in THIS life!!!

  19. Kathy*

    My boss ( director at a school) put her hands on 2 employees, a few students and has stolen money from our nonprofit Church school. When I reported her, I got in trouble . I thought I was doing the right thing.

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