when I asked for a raise, my boss said I was ungrateful and threw a tantrum

A reader writes:

I am technically an independent contractor who gets paid an hourly rate, but I work exclusively at one company on full-time hours. I am one of the most prominent staff members, and am the only person that works this many hours here.

I recently had a contract signing meeting with my boss, which each employee has at the end of our year. It is the norm at our company to get a raise every year. I’ve worked there for 10 years now, and I’ve always received a $2 raise. Last year I received a $5 raise, which I was very grateful for. It was a year that I had been given extra responsibility and done well with it. This year, my boss had very little feedback for me and expressed that he was once again very pleased with my work. He then handed me the contract, which had no raise on it. He casually stated that since I had received a larger than normal raise last year, I should’ve known that that would mean no raise this year. He even went as far as to say that we had discussed that and I had previously agreed to it, which I know is untrue.

I calmly explained to him that I while I didn’t expect the same raise as last year, I did expect some sort of raise for a successful year of work. This is when all hell broke loose. He suddenly became enraged, red in the face, scolding me on how ungrateful and unappreciative I am, saying he does so much for us, says he feels taken advantage of, and even used the word “greedy.”

I replied by thanking him for all that he does for his employees, but he wasn’t having any of it. I tried to remain professional and asked if I could take the contract home to mull it over and reschedule another meeting soon, and he clearly didn’t like that. He sat there giving me the death stare and answering with passive one-word replies. He actually took all three copies of that contract and shredded them in front of me, telling me I can look at last year’s instead. It is worth noting that he has been known to speak to employees like this before, but I have always been in his good books and never experienced it firsthand.

I was shaken by all this, and the next day I sent him a strongly worded email about how not getting a raise is one thing, but being spoken to so disrespectfully was another. He never responded. After a week I asked him for another meeting, where he was suddenly in a good mood and handed me my contract with a $2 raise. I signed it.

My question is, how do I move forward with him? Is there any salvaging of our relationship? Or is it time to make this my last year here?

Are you willing to keep working for someone who throws a temper tantrum, tears up documents, and calls you greedy when you ask for a raise?

That sounds like you’re supposed to say “oh, no, of course not,” but it’s a real question. There might be enough other things about this job that you like enough that you’re willing to accept this as part of the overall package. It’s perfectly legitimate to decide, “Well, I’m working for a jerk, but I love the work, the pay is good, and I only have to deal with his bad behavior occasionally, so I’ll stay.”

But it’s also reasonable to decide that you’re not going to tolerate that.

And really, after 10 years, there might be a lot to gain by looking around at what else is out there anyway.

I do think it’s interesting that when you stood up to him, he backed down and treated you better. But it’s certainly not ideal to work closely with someone who requires that you push back on bullying before he’ll treat you with respect.

You asked how to move forward with him and salvage the relationship, if you do want to stay. Frankly, I don’t know that you need to do anything in particular. He’s the one who lost his cool and flipped out, and he’s the one who’s now acting like nothing happened. If he wants to act like nothing happened, you could just let him do that (on the surface at least; internally, you’ve of course recalibrated your sense of who he is).

But if you feel that you need to address it in order to continue working with him … well, I think you’d be opening up a box of bees that might be better left alone. It sounds like you did say your piece in your email to him, and he took it in, based on his more conciliatory behavior after that. I don’t know that there’s much to be gained by trying to revisit it. It’s possible that it could result in a constructive conversation about respect, but it’s more likely that you will get stung by some of those bees. And I think you’ve made your point anyway.

By the way, you are almost definitely not an independent contractor, legally speaking. If you’ve been working for this employer full-time for years, you have no other clients, and you’re getting employee-like performance reviews, you sound very much like an employee, not an independent contractor, and they should in fact be deducting taxes from your check and paying their share of your payroll taxes (as well as offering you whatever benefits they offer to full-time employees). You might not care — many people don’t — but do be aware that they’re almost certainly breaking the law in this regard and you could pursue that if you ever wanted to.

{ 245 comments… read them below }

  1. Lumos*

    So many evil bees here. congratulations on your raise OP. I’m so sorry you experienced that.

    1. Jesca*

      It really is! And maybe I am alone here, but I think I would have probably would have went home shell shocked for a while, and then just laughed my entire ass off of my body. Who in the world behaves like that!? Like ya know ya were doing something wrong (not giving the raise), were feeding a line of crap about why, and then what? The stress of all your lies got to you when the thin veil of deceit was lifted?

      Well, OP, you now know all about this guy. He tries to play games and then throws outrageous fits when questioned in any way. If you are OK with it, I would say maybe give it another year and see. But if you do like the job, it may be helpful to sort of look at this guy as some sort of bizarre cartoon villain.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m curious, why do people on this site so often say “shell shocked” when they mean just shocked? ‘An annoyed couple of hours of fuming’ is decidedly not ‘crippling PTSD after being bombed extensively for long periods of time’.

          1. Jesca*

            Yep. It is a legitimate and widely used phrase in most places: like books, and tv shows, and internet blogs lol.

            1. Specialk9*

              But people argue, reasonably, about widespread colloquially misused “PTSD” as illegitimate, which is the exact same medical condition. (And actually any colloquial misuse of any diagnosis.)

        1. Camellia*

          For the same reason that people say, “The proof is in the pudding,” when the original is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Common usage whose meaning has eroded over time.

          1. pleaset*

            There are two or three or maybe be four elements at work here.
            Colloquialism and changes in meaning over time
            Offense to people who have experienced the condition mentioned.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I have PTSD and I’m not offended. I know the feeling of shell shocked. It’s a shock so profound, it leaves me in a daze for hours with my brain just blank. Just saying shocked doesn’t cover it, so… shell shocked.
              Also I think it’s likely that many people have PTSD to a greater or lesser degree because look how traumatic life is! I would not take any use of the term as inappropriate. If someone said “my PTSD kicked in…” I would take that as literal even if they haven’t been diagnosed or received treatment.

        2. Screenwriter Mom*

          Fuming is also not ” death or serious injury caused by electric current passing through the body. ” Both are turns of phrase. “Shell shocked” has come to mean “so upset that you continue to be upset long after the incident and can barely believe it even happened.” It’s in common usage.

      2. Fergus*

        I had a boss who told me he wasn’t giving a co-worker a raise because he hired her at quarter more an hour then he should have the year before. It was a very dysfunctional place.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      There is so much passive agressive behavior here, and it’s not going to change.
      – The sudden explosion with blaming
      – Emotional manipulation
      – threats
      – Sickly sweet trying to make up
      – Pretending after the fact that nothing happened

      Until the next time OP violates the (hidden) criteria for behavior.

      Also watch out for gossip, faux-victim hood, and making everyone responsible for how they feel

      1. Wintermute*

        his *hidden and shifting* criteria for behavior.

        Because people like this, if pressed, can’t articulate what they really want of you, what they really want is for you to read their mind. The ulterior motive of course is that they want you on eggshells because they can’t manage their emotions they want you to manage them for them.

        OP, consider that carefully, because putting up with that kind of environment can rapidly alter your sense of “normal” and mean trouble adapting to functional environments down the road.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I agree with this. Even if you try to sit down and have a talk about it they won’t be honest. And then they’ll claim they “were intimidated” by your attempts to clear the air.

        2. OlympiasEpiriot*


          I’d say that this *could* end up being a high price to pay for the job you otherwise like. Depending on how long one stays at a job like that, one’s perceptions of how to deal with the hierarchy at a firm can get really twisted.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It struck me as bullying (and semi-abusive) behavior. It also sounds like OP, and possibly their coworkers, are being miscategorized as contractors when they’re really employees, in which case boss man is not paying payroll taxes, etc., which means actual take home pay is quite low.

        Maybe OP is ok with continuing to work under these conditions for any number of very legit other reasons. But this guy sounds like a really awful person, and I would be uncomfortable working with someone who behaves as he’s behaving.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          My father used explode like this and verbally abuse me almost every day. He also tried to gaslight me.
          Since OP’s boss has treated him this way only once in 10 years, he may not be as bad… I think it’s a question of whether OP thinks they can tolerate it if it happens more often.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          What the employer did was emotionally abusive, and the overly-theatrical obvious threat (shredding all copies of the contract in front of LW), along with insults and silent treatment, was a power-play intended to make the employee forget they have any power in the negotiation.

          In PUA circles, this is called “dread game” and it’s intended to make the target unsure of the status of the relationship, which usually makes the target desperate to maintain the status quo, regardless of whether the status quo is beneficial for the target in any way. It’s fucking disgusting in any context, and I’m glad LW escaped being socialized to respond the way the employer wanted to this unconscionable tactic.

          (Oh look, another example of how work is like dating. I’d say “gag me” but I’m all out of spoons for this.)

      3. Specialk9*

        It’s not passive aggressive, it’s pretty much a checklist of how emotional abusers work.

        OP, check out Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. This guy sounds exactly like that.

      4. Snark*

        This sounds like a boyfriend six months from slapping his girlfriend around, not a boss/client.

    3. Specialk9*

      You’re not a contractor! You’re an employee! If you leave, please talk to a lawyer about getting all of that back.

      Bees. Evil bees.

  2. Hills to Die on*

    Glad it worked out financially. For me, I would start a comfortable job search looking for the right opportunity knowing this will likely happen again at some point. It would not be worth the disrespect IMO, but some people can shake that off more easily than I can.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Same. Regardless of how great other benefits and pay might be, I wouldn’t want to work for this guy. I’m sure if OP thinks back, there will be other instances of Boss losing his cool. Add to that the shady practice of keeping you as a contractor for ten years?

      I’d definitely be looking.

      1. AntsOnMyTable*

        The contractor thing aside I personally would be willing to put up with a couple tantrums a year to stay in a job that consistently gave me that kind of raise assuming I liked it otherwise. That is 2-5x times what I would ever expect to see. There is nothing wrong with staying for the money if it is unusually good especially sine this is the first time you were so upset by his actions in 10 years.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      I’d just make a note that I don’t want to be negotiating a new contract a year from now. Take the win, and be gone before 12 months is up.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      When I was an intern, I asked the intern coordinator for a rate adjustment after I officially received my master’s degree. He went off on me, called me “ungrateful” and told me I’d been earning the master’s rate the whole time even without the degree (no idea if I was as no one had ever told me this!). It was long enough ago that I don’t even remember what the end result was, but what I do remember was his complete overreaction and rudeness. Fortunately my direct supervisor was awesome and the whole experience was great, but if that coordinator’s name ever comes up (it’s rare but we do still have colleagues in common), my immediate reaction is negative based on that single interaction.

      All that to say, I’d be looking for a new job too.

      1. Nanani*

        If someone calls you rude for taking care of yourself, they are waving a big red flag over their head.

  3. The Original K.*

    Slightly unrelated: I’m surprised you’ve been allowed to be an independent contractor for 10 years, OP. I was a contractor at a place that used a lot of contractors and an edict came down from HR that said that everyone needed to fish or cut bait on contractors who had been there for six months or more. The longest stint I heard was two years. I was there a year.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I was a contractor (technically a long-term “temp” through a staffing firm) for about 5 years before someone finally wised up. Of course I got laid off another 3 1/2 years later and if I’d had all that time as a FTE, I would’ve gotten a lot more severance :P

      1. Natalie*

        That’s a much different scenario, legally speaking, than being an independent contractor, though. The LW’s company is breaking tax laws. Permatemps can create a common law employee situation wherein you might qualify for certain benefits, but it’s not strictly illegal on its own.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          The short version I use is “who is supposed to pay the employer’s part of your taxes?” according to whatever you agreed when you were hired.

          If it’s you, you’re classified as an IC—whether you’re classified correctly is another issue.

          If it’s not you, you’re classified as an employee—whether you’re an employee of your direct employer or of a temp agency is other issue.

          Do I have this sort-of right, as a not-lawyer person, or is there another easy way to understand it? :)

    2. animaniactoo*

      Because there’s law around it, which is what Alison is referring to. Google “Microsoft PermaTemp” and you’ll find all the background on it. There are specifics of how long you can be a temp/contractor and what benefits you can participate in before they either have to classify you as a full-time employee or let you go.

      1. The Original K.*

        Right, I know – we’re making the same point. I’m surprised that OP has been able to be a contractor for 10 years BECAUSE of the law that exists, which, as has been said, the company is violating.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          I hate this. There’s not a law (in the US) about how long someone can be a contractor at a workplace. There’s just not. What there is, is tax laws that companies are careful not to violate, which gives rise to company policies about how long a person can work as a contractor (of whatever kind, including being paid thru a staffing agency). Eighteen months is a pretty common limit, but it can be any amount of time.

          (Did you know that Al Capone was actually felled by a tax evasion conviction? All those murders might have been hard to prove, but tax accountants are hard to foil.)

    3. Kittymommy*

      Yeah, this stood way out to me. I cannot imagine the OP is really an independent contractor.

    4. OP*

      Original poster, here! Thank you so much for the feedback. On the topic of independent contractors, I’ve always wondered how this was allowed. My boss insists that he is very “by the book” in this regard. My company has about 30-40 independent contractors, and exactly 3 employees. My boss is also the type of person that, if challenged, would not hesitate to threaten legal action our way, however backwards that may seem. We are definitely the type of small organization with no HR that Alison described.

          1. Specialk9*

            1) Control. “Does the employer have the right to hire or fire, determine the wage or salary to be paid, and decide on the time, place, and manner in which the work is to be done? Then an employer-employee relationship exists.”
            A: you’re an employee not a contractor.

            2) Ownership of tools. Contractors buy or rent their own tools and equipment. Do you use their tools, or your own?
            A: unknown

            3) The chance of profit/risk of loss. A contractor has a chance of making a profit, runs the risk of losses, and covers the operating costs.
            A: you’re an employee.

            4) Integration. An employee only has one ‘client’ and is integrated into operations.
            A: you’re an employee.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Canada is the same. If the CRA ever audits you and decides you’re misclassified, there will be huge issues. A contract is not enough to prevent that.

          At the very least you seem to fall under dependent contractor status, which you should look into more, as depending on your province you get some additional rights and stuff.

        2. PS*

          I’m in Canada and I’m pretty sure if Alison’s description is correct, you’re in fact an employee, not an independent contractor.

        3. PS*

          Just to elaborate, you’re not an independent contractor or employee because your contract says so. It depends on the facts of your situation.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          What he’s doing sounds totally illegal. Doesn’t Canada also have a Labor Board/Council system, where you complain to a governmental agency about the miscategorization?

        5. PizzaDog*

          Where are you in Canada? Quebec has Les Normes du Travail, and I’m sure other provinces have something similar.

        6. Jen*

          I’m in Canada and worked a job in the past where I was misclassified. CRA found out and there were indeed issues. I strongly recommend pushing back and getting categorized correctly. You can reach out to the CRA and they’ll investigate the company too, if you’d prefer to go that route.

          1. Nanani*

            Second this. The CRA is actually extremely helpful, and you would not be the one in trouble, if trouble is indeed found.

            Frame it as seeking information about how to correctly fill in your documents, because you read something (this column) that made you think you might have been going about it wrong.

        7. AnonNotmyNormalName*

          I am very confident in saying you’re not an independent contractor in Canada. I work for an organization that used a lot of independent contractors and CRA did an audit and the shit hit the fan. They levied fines, back tax payments were required, we paid for the employer and employee contributions – it’s a big deal.

          Because of that there is this long process now to determine if someone in an independent contractor – you have to meet a long list of requirements and answer a long list of questions. If you only work for one company and you’ve done so for 10 years and they tell you what to work on, where to work on it, when to do it – you’re an employee.

          Link to CRA publication in my name.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            They most certainly are! (I know because I’m in one. Thanks, Federal government, for losing our student loan information!)

        8. Astor*

          Hi OP! I also think that it’s allowed just because he hasn’t been caught. You may find this official webpage useful:
          https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/rc4110/employee-self-employed.html#workers_employment_status (or keep scrolling down if you’re in Quebec).

          Most of the factors that indicate that you’re an employee are the same as those Alison mentions: you’ve been working for your employer full-time for years, you have no other clients, and you’re getting employee-like performance reviews. That page specifically talks about how “continuity, loyalty, security, subordination, and integration” are “generally associated with an employer-employee relationship.”

          One test that I like is to consider as to whether or not you’re allowed to hire a sub-contractor to complete your work. If the answer to that is no, chances are that you’re not a contractor.

          There are a few occupations that are excepted listed further down on the page. As always, read the whole document and consult someone before taking any action! The documentation I found says that you’d need to submit a request for a ruling by June 30th in order to have your 2017 role re-evaluated, in which case there’s not going to be much benefit. An accountant or lawyer would have better insight.

        9. Catherine from Canada*

          Sounds like my son-in-law’s former boss (who threatened to sue when J quit), you’re not in Ottawa by any chance are you?

        10. memboard*

          Canada has labour laws on a per province basis so you need to check what local laws say unless you are in a field specifically regulated by the federal government.

          The ones I am vaguely aware of would take a dim view of full time consultants, especially if said consultants have only one customer for years on end. That said, odds are you are paying the employer’s part of the taxes, CPP, EI etc.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Insisting he’s “by the book” and threatening legal action makes your boss sound like those people in relationships that accuse you of cheating because they’re cheating.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Something about criminals who think/assume/expect their enemies are doing what they’re doing. It’s in the American Fascists book. I’ll try to find the info at lunch.

          1. JIya*

            Once I realized this behavior pattern in a certain brand of asshole it explained so, so very much.

      2. Specialk9*

        OF COURSE he talks a big talk about how he’s decidedly NOT breaking the law, and if anyone tried to bring up that he were breaking the law (which, definitely not) he’d sue them. Did he also add that he make sure that that person would never work again in this town?

        OP, this is the playbook, to a T, of an abuser, who is also exploiting you. He knows it’s illegal, he knows he can cajole-threaten-sweettalk people into ignoring their instincts about how off it all seems.

        1. smoke tree*

          Yeah, “I’m very by the book” sounds like the workplace equivalent of “I’m very respectful toward women.” If you have to say it, it’s probably not true.

        2. OP*

          My jaw just dropped because I think we must work together. He has said these EXACT words in staff meetings many times before.

          (Just realized that the concept of a staff meeting is probably another tick against the “independent contractor” claim?)

          1. Lance*

            To that last point… possibly. If it concerns the work you’re doing there, then sure, I could see contractors attending; if it concerns the org as a whole, though, I don’t think there’d be much/any reason for contractors to be there.

          2. Jadelyn*

            Depends on the type of staff meeting. For project-related meetings, independent contractors who are involved in the project would likely be there and it wouldn’t change their status. But a general all-staff meeting, “state of the company” type of event – no, independent contractors wouldn’t generally be there for something like that.

      3. Jesmlet*

        Not sure if it’s any different in Canada but my understanding is the mere fact that you have a “boss” (aka someone who supervises you, tells you how to do your job, etc), means you’re not an independent contractor. If you meant boss in a more hands-off overseeing/reporting kind of way, then that’s a different story, but it still sounds like you’re being misclassified.

      4. Umvue*

        My boss is also the type of person that, if challenged, would not hesitate to threaten legal action our way, however backwards that may seem.

        Yeah, I was thinking that challenging this guy on this issue sounded about as appealing as a tin full of migraines. It sucks that teaching jerk bosses a lesson so often requires a lot of upfront cash and aggro on the part of employees, who by virtue of their lesser rank tend to have a smaller supply of both.

        1. Specialk9*

          My understanding is that OP would get back the stolen tax and old age pension benefits.

          1. Umvue*

            I bet you’re right! I bet they’d come out ahead in the long run. It’s the short term I’m not as clear on (especially since this is Canada and I can fit everything I know about Canadian law and society inside a loonie). There’s a substantial outlay of time upfront, and depending how lawyering works up north, maybe money too.

            I think if I were in OP’s shoes I would want badly for someone else to sue and win, but would probably be too intimidated by the upfront costs to do it myself. (So if OP does have the wherewithal to sue, I super want to know how it turns out.)

            1. Specialk9*

              I don’t think it’s a lawsuit matter, it’s a quiet word to the labor board so they can do an investigation. Then the boss is looking around at 30+ misclassified employees and 3 legit employees and wondering who said something. Anyway, he can’t fire them all!

              1. Kathlynn*

                If the employee contacts the labour board, province depending, the labour board will demand that the employee talk to the employer first before stepping in. (at least in British Columbia).
                I don’t know how the other agencies would deal with this, but I know “have you talked to your boss about this” is a common question.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  …that strikes me as so strange to ask. “Yes, of course I felt comfortable accusing my boss and my company of labor law violations, because that’s something that always ends well.” Like, really? Whistleblower protections exist for a reason, because people often Do Not Respond Well when someone calls out their shady behavior, so why would your first question be “before we, the people tasked with enforcing the law, get involved, have you, singular employee who is vulnerable to retaliation, tried to do our job for us?”

                2. Friday*

                  If I were the OP, I’d think back on all of those comments boss has made about being on the right side of the law regarding independent contractors, and would tell the labor board that yes, we did have multiple conversations about it already and the boss thinks he’s in the right.

                  Doesn’t matter that those multiple conversations were less “conversations” and more the boss ranting at the employees that he has the classification right.

                3. Ego Chamber*

                  @Jadelyn | I understand it makes sense to cut out the middle man when possible but a lot of scenarios shouldn’t need a “Please stop” before they’re investigated and/or penalized.

                  @Friday | Valid strategy! When I worked at a Taco Johns in high school, they once insisted we sell food containing undercooked meat (because the opener who usually started the chicken had called out that day and no one else remembered until about 10 minutes before the doors unlocked and it’s not like we were just going to say the chicken wasn’t ready yet, right? Then we’d lose money!). The owner was very clear with everyone that we were not to talk about the chicken or suggest that people not eat the chicken, and anyway it would be fine because the owner had seen “chicken sashimi” on Pinterest the other day. Everyone recommended not-chicken to the customers, and at least 3 of us made secret calls to the health department.

                  Yes, of course we had discussed the problem with the owner and tried to correct it, because that would of gotten us somewhere besides fired on the spot. O_o

        2. Zombeyonce*

          That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. In the US (and I realize OP is in Canada but they might have a similar situation), you report violations to the Labor board and they go after the employer and then you get a payout. You could definitely get a lawyer yourself (and after 10 years of misclassification, I’d recommend it because of the potential payoff) but there’s likely a free option here for OP to have recourse.

      5. Samiratou*

        It’s amazing to me the company has that many “independent contractors” and hasn’t been ratted out yet.

      6. ZW*

        OP, I’m not going to pretend to know a fraction of what everyone is discussing but based only on knowledge I’ve learned from reading this site I really think you need to do something. This seems very illegal and I’m a big believer in standing up for yourself in situations of mistreatment. I know it’s not always so simple to do when it comes time to speak out but I encourage you to pursue this.

        Think about all the situations where a person finds themselves totally out of luck under the law despite it being clearly wrong or unfair. This isn’t one of them. There are authorities that exist to set things like this right. It’s a real problem and you should seek out the help they offer. This isn’t something to be passive about.

        Keep us updated on whatever you decide. We’re a very curious bunch :)

    5. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

      Interesting. We have some contractors who have worked with us for years. None of them are full-time. However, none of them want to be employees, as they’d have to relocate, work traditional hours, etc., (basically get on board with the rules that everyone else has to follow).

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        They may truly be independent contractors, then! There’s a multifactor test for it, but based on OP’s description of their role, it sounds like their boss is cheating the system by misclassifying workers.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        It really depends on the working conditions, misclassification happens often but companies really only get caught if someone complains.

        It is possible to have a long standing contractor that only works exclusively for one company. While only having one client may not be the best option from a business perspective in case they start giving work to someone else. For example a graphic design person could only have one client be paid hourly with a hard cap of no more than 40 hours per week. If the person works on individual projects and can choose where to work from (home, coffee shop, beach), when to work (midnight to 8 am, or noon to 8 pm, or even 10 hours a day for 4 days and then have a 3 day weekend) if they use their own equipment. Someone else mentioned but it depends on many factors. I have a friend who is a contractor (not independent) and he can work from anywhere with internet connection and as long as he hits his minimum hour quota each week he can choose when to work those hours, but for every short term contract he is a full employee with employer paid taxes/fica.

      3. Harper the Other One*

        Yes, I’m in Canada and this is how I’m still a contractor despite devoting my work to one company for multiple years: I set my working hours and location, and nothing prevents me from taking on additional work for others if I choose.

      4. nonprofit director*

        Depends on where you’re located. The California Supreme Court recently set forth a three-part test that makes it much harder to classify someone as an independent contractor. All three parts must be met, and “desire of worker” is not one of the parts. As a lawyer stated, the worker and the hiring entity don’t get to decide; the law decides.

      5. Jiya*

        If they’re part-timers they might have multiple clients, which weighs a bit in favor of them being independent contractors. It’s a holistic thing.

    6. Tau*

      Not in the US, but my old company had a 10-year contractor and others of similar durations. It was a global company and there was some budget thing going on that made it much easier for them to hire contractors than full employees, so the department was about 80% contractor. I and a bunch of others were contracted via a company that mandated max two-year stays in one place, and every time one of us left because our two years were up it was clear that they’d have liked to keep us longer.

      1. zora*

        This kind of contractor is different from what we are referring to above as an “independent contractor”. In the case you are talking about, the workers are “full employees” of the contracting company, which then has a contract with your company. That is different than classifying someone as an “Independent Contractor” where they are getting paid directly and no one is paying relevant taxes or providing mantatory benefits to them.

        1. zora*

          An “Independent Contractor” can also be thought of as a “Freelancer” or “Self-employed”

  4. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

    Alison’s advice here is right on the nose – you need to think about whether or not you want to stay in this environment. The other perks may well be worth it (here comes the but)…
    BUT, since you’ve been working there for 10 years, it’s possible you’re blind to how disfunctional your workplace really is. At a previous position I was fairly happy despite many problems and only realised after leaving that my manager had basically kettled our entire department and denied us not only a lot of benifits but also normal behavior.
    It might be too odd to do in your field, but could you maybe join a friend for lunch at their workplace and get a feel for the differences between offices?

    1. OP*

      This is quite relatable. I think I’m slowly becoming aware of how dysfunctional my workplace is. And while I’ve heard horror stories similar to this one from other companies in my field, I can’t help but think that there must be somewhere that I could be equally happy with the actual work, without all the negative that comes with it.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        And with all the benefits of being a regular instead of a contractor! (Like others, I definitely think you should contact a lawyer since you could be owed years of money from benefits you should have been receiving and taxes you paid that your employer should have paid.)

        1. Artemesia*

          This. I’d line up a new job and then raise this issue with legal authorities to try to get back pay you might have been entitled to as a full time employee.

  5. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    …yeah, it’s DEFINITELY “Terrible Men Week” here. (I mean, to be fair, every week is Terrible Men Week. But these letters raise the bar.)

    I also already know the answer to this so I can’t believe I’m asking, but…LW, has he acted like this before? I mean, this is almost certainly a sign you should leave either way, but I can’t imagine this is the first time he’s blown up on someone.

    1. motherofdragons*

      LW knows he’s done this to others, just not to LW: “It is worth noting that he has been known to speak to employees like this before”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hey, punching up is different from punching down, but I’d still rather we not target entire demographic groups like that. Thank you.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        Apologies. (And I’ll mention that I’m a guy myself, for the record.)

        1. Engineer Girl*

          So it’s ok to hurt the feelings of the women that do?
          That’s one of the side effects of othering. You hurt the target AND the bystander.

          1. seriously?*

            How did “some men suck” become a personal affront to women?

            Saying that some men are garbage has nothing to do with *you*. Saying that some men are terrible shouldn’t hurt you, a woman, who is not a terrible man.

              1. Blue Anne*

                Are we about to rehash the entire conversation around #notallmen that has been going on for literally years now?

              2. Blue Anne*

                Apologies for snark, I am very tired. I’m going to bow out of this comments section.

              3. STG*

                Considering that Allison herself commented that it was painting an entire demographic as terrible, I think this actually fits.

          2. Blue Anne*

            My jokey hashtag there was meant to convey that I also have great men in my life, and sympathize with statements like this.

            Each of the many wonderful men in my life are people who see the struggles that I and other women go through because of the behaviour of their general demographic, and don’t take it personally when I am feeling defeated or blowing off steam. They are more perceptive and less defensive than that.

          3. Linda Evangelista*

            I have a brilliant, amazing man in my life. And he laughs along with me when I say “men are the worst”, etc. Because he’s not insecure, and its “punching up”, rather than punching down.

      2. Anononon*

        I have great men in my life, and one of the great things about them is that they realize we can express frustration at a group in power without it meaning we’re directly targeting them.

      3. tusky*

        Yes! “Punching up” is challenging people with power. “Punching down” is aiming at people who are already marginalized/relatively powerless.

      4. tusky*

        I ask this sincerely: how does a general comment referencing the regularity with which men do terrible things hurt your feelings w/ respect to the men in your life?

      5. EmKay*

        If it doesn’t apply to the men in your life, why on earth does it hurt your feelings?

      1. anonforthis*

        I read in the comments in another post today about how a woman lifted up another woman’s skirt. Lets start a Terrible Woman Weeks since we are targeting entire demographics.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        The only boss I had that acted this way was a woman. Gender has nothing to do with the behavior.

        1. tusky*

          Right, because a single counterexample disproves any relationship between gender and the behavior. /s/

            1. Courageous cat*

              Well good, it’s always useful to take people’s language as literally as possible when they’re trying to make a point.

      3. STG*

        If all that you need is an example of a woman being terrible to paint that entire demographic, that’s easy enough to find.

      4. staceyizme*

        It’s no different than “terrible women drivers”, “them durn kids today”, “that’s SO blonde”, “all bosses are bad” or any other classification that’s based on this type of demographic. Those so classed will feel ostracized and called out and there will be a perception of having been miscast as the villain simply because the descriptors fit. It’s a just complaint and one that should be heeded, not marginalized.

    3. Nita*

      But… every week is also Terrible Noisy Coworker Week, and Terrible Management Decision Week, and Terrible HR Staff Week…

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          It makes more sense if you follow the logic that those who are not the majority can not be racist, sexist, bigoted, etc.

  6. Mike C.*

    Independent contractor for 10 years? Bullsh!t, you’re almost certainly illegally classified and you need to speak to a labor lawyer right away. That’s 10 years of back pay and benefits that should have been given to you, and 10 years of taxes that you shouldn’t have had to pay.

    You have an incredible amount of leverage here and you have a lot of room to learn about and explore your options before you have to make any difficult decisions.

    1. JustaCPA*

      This. Assuming you’re in the US, you are in fact an employee and a good lawyer will get you a NICE payday.

    2. Adaline B.*

      How does that work for past years? Would the employee need to file amended returns for all those years?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Possibly, but usually it’s handled on the employer side (punish the person who broke the law, not the one who suffered for it).

    3. Samiratou*

      Assuming you’ve decided you don’t want to work for them anymore. Obviously this will napalm any bridge you might have with them, but if you want a nice cushion while you look for a different position, go for it.

    4. CmdrShepard4ever*

      Non lawyer here, if you proceed be sure to consult one. But I believe the statute of limitations for FLSA/ misclassification issues is two years.

    5. Amber Rose*

      OP is Canadian, and probably classed as a dependent contractor, which is unique to us.

      1. PS*

        You don’t know that. OP needs to speak to an employment lawyer. The entire situation sounds sketchy AF.

          1. PS*

            I get that; i’m in Canada too. I meant that we don’t know if OP is classified as a dependent contractor or not. OP should speak to an employment lawyer.

  7. L*

    Does anyone get the feeling that Boss exploded because he thought “contractor” might just be realizing he isn’t one? And because it’s Boss’s behind if “contractor” decides to pursue this with a labor lawyer?

    1. Rebecca*

      Yes, I just popped in to say this exact thing. Boss may have spouted off, then gone to vent to another boss…who may have pointed out, hey, just give the guy something to make him happy so he doesn’t take this any further. I can totally see that happening.

    2. Let's Talk About Splett*

      The LW mentioned him blowing up at other people previously, so my guess was that he was on thin ice with mgmt or HR for that and was afraid the LW would go to them about his outburst.

    3. OP*

      This is possible. Also of note, my boss is the owner of the company, so there is no higher-up for him to speak to in this situation.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Nah, Boss is just doing this because you Dared To Talk Back. The contracting status issue didn’t cross his mind.

        He backed down because you stood up to him. He’ll probably do it again sometime.

  8. H.C.*

    Something similar, but on a less extreme scale, happened at my OldJob (where I was also working for almost 10 years, but as a full-time employee) — which triggered my semi-active job hunt. So yeah, I’d suggest putting feelers out there to see what opportunities are available.

  9. curious*

    It sounds like your boss, in addition to being rude, was under pressure for a budget reason. Maybe also if he considers you an independent contractor he doesn’t “owe” you a raise. After last year’s raise he may have though he did enough to retain your services. Then again after 10 years I don’t think he is realistically looking at the situation. While you are looking at this as a consultant, technically you are an employee, a member of the team. It almost seems like after you stood up to him, he realized just how much you do and come back with a raise. Either that or the big bosses spoke to him about his behavior. Regardless no one deserves to be treated the way you were. I’m glad you got what you deserved, but I’d start looking elsewhere for another job. If anything, with your raise you can take your time and choose a new position that best suits your needs and compensation.

    Wow what a mish mash of thoughts I just posted.

  10. Myrin*

    OP, I gotta say, kudos to you for handling this situation extremely well! You kept your cool, stayed professional, and even sent a strongly-worded email! Much as this must have been a very stressful situation to be in, this is actually very satisfying to read (if you remove the highly volatile five-year-old who employs you).

    1. Specialk9*

      Definitely. This sounds like a post-Alison way to handle it, not pre! (Meaning you handled it perfectly, OP.)

  11. Rubyrose*

    Errant thought – last year’s contract had the $5 raise and he told you to look at it? I would have considered telling him you would be willing to sign last year’s contract again, with the $5 raise. But I would have prepared for finding another job pronto.

    1. Specialk9*

      Snerk. Yeah. Uhhhhh that’s not how contracts work? (Which you know, boss, because you’ve been stealing from dozens of people for at least a decade, knowingly.)

  12. Old Cynic*

    Wow. Back when I was an IT Director, I would not have dreamed of telling a contractor what I would pay them — they told me. I would have been thrilled at a $2-5 annual rate change; it was generally closer to $25. Of course, that was the mid-90s when we were all alarmed about Y2K and contractors had us by the balls!

  13. Shrek says 0*

    Networking. Make sure you have people other than your current boss who can provide you with recommendations. This company you work for is a bad actor -you are not a contractor. The management is volatile and childish. Managing by rage is not managing. They do not have your best interests in mind and do not care about your future. Should they need to reduce headcount, you would be the first to go, with no severance as you are ‘not an employee.’

  14. Leave it to Beaver*

    After a particularly busy year, which included me covering portions of a vacant position (which I had actually applied for and not gotten), I told my boss somewhat indirectly that I wouldn’t be happy with a cost of living increase when performance review time came around in a few months. She in turn responded directly that my last raise was for the potential they saw in me, not the work I had done. Meaning for the past year they were paying me more than I was worth. I started looking for a new job. They ended up giving me a 5% increase, but the ship had sailed as I was already interviewing and about 2 months later I got the promotion I wanted at another company. My boss countered with a promotion and a raise. I left.

    1. curious*

      It sounds like your boss tried to justify compensation in her mind and had tunnel vision in realizing what the compensation represents. If they are giving you a raise for future potential, ok, then you proved your potential with all you did – are they not expecting any new potential next year? That’s a crazy situation. I’m glad you found something that better suits what you are looking for.

    2. CatCat*

      I always find it fascinating how many employers don’t seem to take “I want X” seriously from an employee they want to keep. I mean, the odds that the employee will look for another job that can deliver X is high.

      I’ve left two jobs like this that involved a boss scrambling to offer X only when I put in my notice. No thx, too late!

      1. Jadelyn*

        We just lost a really great employee to stuff like this. We knew the guy wanted to advance – he’d actually almost left once before, but changed his mind because he really did like working for our org, and we worked with him on changing his level if not his title.

        Well, a month or so back we had a branch manager position open for one of our smaller branches, and he applied. The regional manager interviewed him but decided they wanted more direct people-managing experience and didn’t move forward with him for the position. (Which I personally think was a mistake, since this is a very small branch with a staff of only 3 people, less than a 20 minute drive from the regional manager’s own branch so well within range for the regional manager to be involved in coaching and developing the new manager on things – you couldn’t get a more perfect first-time-manager opportunity if you tried.) I said to one of my other coworkers that I would put money that the employee was going to start looking for a new job.

        Sure enough, three weeks later, the employee put in his notice. He had found the promotion he was looking for somewhere else. I’m still mad at the regional manager. This guy could’ve been a rock star who would’ve stayed and worked his way up with us for the next ten years, but now he’s gone because he didn’t see opportunities for advancement here, and the one he did see he was rejected for. (Luckily the regional manager hasn’t made any comments about his disappointment with losing this employee *to me* – I’m not sure I could stop myself from saying “Well what else did you expect?”)

    3. Leave it to Beaver*

      I worked for her for over 3 years, my previous raises were all in response to the work I’d already done. So, it was a pretty blatant attempt to make me question my request (which was pretty reasonable — a raise of more than 3%). I didn’t appreciate the manipulation and would have respected her much more if she had just told me that I didn’t deserve it. Though, I still would have left… because she was 4 kinds of terrible. (Same woman thought it would be more productive to reprimand my coworker and I together — about separate issues. She thought we would be so embarrassed by the other knowing our faults we would be more careful in the future… It did not have the intended effect)

        1. Leave it to Beaver*

          Yep! Even better, she was proud of herself for thinking of this genius idea.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Wow. I’ve worked at call centers that listen to calls during team meetings and then involve the whole team in coaching the call, but even those places handle actual reprimands privately.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I had a supervisor like this! Her favorite thing to do was save up reprimands and deliver them all at once in a staff meeting, particularly if there was someone from corporate in attendance.

    4. Artemesia*

      I do love stories like this. The boss insulted you and yet I’ll bet she was shocked, SHOCKED when you gave notice. I hope the OP can line up something better and basque in the warm glow of this douche bag owner’s ire.

  15. Can I be Amy Santiago too?*

    Sorry about the off topic, but I love, love, love the phrase “box of bees”. I will be using this allll the time.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      I took it as a reference to Captain Awkward’s House of Evil Bees analogy (dangerous house symptoms include bleeding walls, moaning voices, evil bees swarming). CA’s a lot of fun.

  16. Purple Jello*

    $2 an hour each year? That’s only a $20 an hour raise over 10 years, taking into account last year’s $5, only $23 more per hour. Has the job stayed the same, or do you have more responsibility or bring more expertise to it than you did 10 years ago?

    You’re now making ~$9200 more a year than 10 years ago. Since we don’t know your starting salary, I don’t know what percentage increase that is, but that $2 is a lower percentage of your total salary this year than it was 10 years ago when you first started there.

    1. OP*

      Yes, I’ve thought about it this way as well. $2 when I started 10 years ago was a lot more noticeable than $2 now. To answer your question, yes to both. The job has evolved into a lot more responsibility now, and I do believe I have much more expertise to offer now.

    2. hello???*

      I’m not following your math here. $2/hour every year equates to $4,160 a year (based on 40 hours a week for 52 weeks), sooooooo multiply that by 9 and $5/hour times 1 and OP is making roughly $47,840 more today than they were originally.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Right! Depending on the starting rate, these could be pretty decent raises each year… or pretty terrible raises.

        But it doesn’t actually matter — the money isn’t the real issue here; the boss’ behavior is.

    3. DivineMissL*

      It’s all relative. I’d kiss a pig to be making $20 more an hour than I was making 10 years ago. Our piddly government pay increases have amounted to about $25 PER WEEK more for me each year, before taxes, which doesn’t much cover the annual increases in medical coverage we have as well. And that doesn’t count the years we had no raises AND had to furlough 2 weeks’ pay (which equaled a nearly 4% cut in pay).

    4. CmdrShepard4ever*

      How do are you calculating only $9200 more a year than last year?Assuming no overtime, 40 hours a week at 52 weeks that is roughly 2080 hours a year. A $2 raise is(2*2080) $4160 each year. For 9 years OP was given a $4160 raise plus a $10,400 raise the previous year. ($4160*9)+10,400= 41,600 over 10 years. For $4160 to equal a 3% raise the pay would have to be $138,666 or $66.66 per hour. You are correct a set $2 would make the percentage raise each year lower.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        *Calculation error: ($4,160*9)+10,400=47,840 hello??? is right it is roughly 47,840 more than before.

    5. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Out of curiosity, where did you get the $9200 from? If they’re making an additional $23/hour and working full time, that averages out to $47,840 a year (assuming a 52 week year, $46,000 if calculating it with a 50 week year, as some places do). It’s less impressive if they started off at $200/hour, so it may still not be a good increase, but I don’t think it’s quite as bad.

      1. Namast'ay in Bed*

        Ah sorry to pile on, when I started writing this there wasn’t a response other than the OP.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          It happens, due to working I have taken up to 45 mins sometimes to write and fully submit a comment before by then the same thing has been said a few times. Sometimes even in a couple minutes others are faster at typing.

    6. Purple Jello*

      You’ll all be happy to know that I am not working in Finance and Accounting. Thanks for correcting my math errors.

      Not sure where the $9200 came from, but you’re making $920 more a week than you were 10 years ago.

      I stand by my percentage statement.

      1. Bea*

        I don’t know what she’s doing but ten years ago I was making less than $900 a week because that was starting out of school. Doubling your salary in 10 years is not the norm. Most jobs cap out and you’ll make maybe 3% more each year for COL.

        So say you made 1000 a week for easy measure.
        Yr 1 $2 increase 1080 3% would be 1030
        Yr 2 $2 increase 1160 3% would be 1060.9
        Yr 3 $2 increase 1240 3% would be 1092.73
        Yr 4 $2 increase 1380
        Yr 5 $2 increase 1400
        Yr 6 $2 increase 1480
        Yr 7 $2 increase 1560
        Yr 8 $2 increase 1640
        Yr 9 $2 increase 1720
        Yr 10 $5 increase 1920
        1920×52 is 99840
        For a job you started out making 52000. That’s incredible payment and not normal.

        I’m making $10 an hour more than when I started. And I’ll cap out in 2 years at $20. I make my rate due to the higher COL in my area.

        I am in accounting so I’m all too aware of these payscale misinterpretations so I get it.

    7. Jadelyn*

      That’s…not at all how the math works out when I do it.

      Say OP started at $20/hr in 2008. With $2/hr raise each year, OP would be making $40/hr after 10 years, or double their original salary. $20/hr annually works out to $41,600; $40/hr annually works out to $83,200. (I’m skipping the $5/hr year to make it simpler for myself.)

      Now you are right about the percentages part. The first year, $2/hr was a 10% raise. Over time that’s diminished so that the last $2/hr raise was only a 5% raise.

      The difference gets even more dramatic if you start with a lower initial pay rate of $10/hr – then the first year was a 20% raise, and the last year was only 7%.

      But either way, a $2/hr raise each year results in a difference of $41,600 a year between first year’s annual salary and last year’s annual salary over a 10-year span, no matter what your starting salary was.

  17. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

    Yeah, I don’t think you have a choice about pursuing the independent contractor thing if he hit the roof at the idea of you taking the employment contract home. That sounds like a boss who wants to hide the evidence of his misdeeds. One resource you might want to take a look at is your state’s Labor Board. I’m betting they have a website with neatly laid out information of what exactly needs to happen in your state.

    The other reason to get that cleared up is that someone willing to keep up this shady employment style probably isn’t too fussed when it comes to staying on the side of the angels when it comes to taxes. Getting your employment status all cleared up and compliant with the state, including having your actual status acknowledged for the past decade, means you’re covered should he be audited. Better safe than sorry.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      Oh, I didn’t even think about that aspect of it! Not wanting you to leave the building with the unsigned contract is a major red flag, OP. Please consider talking to an employment lawyer, because the person you work for is most definitely not on the up-and-up.

  18. Persimmons*

    Does this perma-temp/misclassification issue still apply when you’re getting a W-2 from a temp agency? If I’m working a 12-month temp position at Teapots Inc. through Beverage Temps United, and Teapots Inc. keep re-upping with Beverage Temps United to keep me every time the clock runs out, does that skate around the illegality?

    1. Cara*

      If memory serves, I think a lot of those sort of positions were actually created 15-ish years ago in response to some lawsuit about the contractor vs. employee issue. Officially you are an employee of the agency, who takes on all the legal responsibility around benefits and unemployment and such, while the company where you do the work (e.g. Teapots Inc.) continues to have the benefit of a more flexible workforce.

      1. BRR*

        And if the temp agencies are anything like the ones people I know were employed through, the benefits are laughable compared to the company. My husband could get health insurance through the temp agency…for $900 a month. No PTO, no even paid holidays so the office would be closed and he’d struggle to get enough hours in during that week. The company got to create a lower tier of employees by going through a temp agency.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        It was M$ that ruined it for everyone, and it was in the 90’s. Thanks, Bill!

    2. AMT27*

      No, because you aren’t an independent contractor if you receive a W-2 rather than a 1099. In your case the agency (Beverage Temps United) is the contractor, you are classified as an employee with them. As far as Teapots Inc is concerned you are not their employee or contractor – their vendor is Beverage Temps United.

  19. Lady Phoenix*

    What is the new saying, that you get your raise when you get the new job? Grass is always green on the other side

    1. YetEvenAnotherAlison*

      Or the grass is always greener over the septic tank…….little humor here…..

  20. curious*

    OP – just wondering – is there anyway to break the contact and leave earlier than a year? Maybe (or maybe not) your boss learned the error of his ways, but it sounds like things can become toxic or uncomfortable.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      I am not a llama, but I think if the court or the labor bureau were to determine that the contract was issued in bad faith, they might be able to have it voided.

    2. Ego Chamber*

      “is there anyway to break the contact and leave earlier than a year?”

      Better question: What is the penalty for breaking the contract and leaving before the year is up?

      There is no contract that can force anyone to do anything, they’re all based on the leverage of the penalties that will be imposed if the contract is broken—usually employment contracts say you’ll be fired, or list a monetary penalty, but sometimes they just list the terms of you employment, in which case you’re basically free to leave at any time without legal or financial repercussion, but it is a bridge-burner and will potentially affect your reputation.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        I’m also not a llama but my understanding of contracts is that they’re more for rewarding you for doing what the contract says and giving an avenue to penalize you if you don’t do what the contract says.

        For example, if a contract says “You will work for EvilBees INC for the next 12 months at $Xsalary,” all that means is if you stop working, they stop paying you. They can’t make you keep working there just because it says so on a piece of paper, they can only enforce the penalties listed in the contract if you break it.

        Llamas please correct me if I’ve got this all wrong.

  21. Goya de la Mancha*

    I don’t know about other lines of work, but any contracted service for our company is not allowed to be paid out more then $600/year (I don’t know the exact amount, but it’s really small). After that, the person needs to be added to the permanent payroll which qualifies them for certain benefits (but not all).

    1. hello???*

      if you are in US it might be because $600 is the max you can pay without issuing a 1099-MISC

    2. Bea*

      Your company doesn’t ef with 1099s it sounds like. It gets dicey after you start issuing them so that’s not a bad rule for them.

    3. Goya de la Mancha*

      The 1099 sounds familiar. Our department doesn’t contract out work, but I know about once a year we get a “friendly reminder” email sent company wide talking about those who fall into the category or not.

  22. Bea*

    A 4160 raise every year sounds awesome but this guy is a shady asshole! I would be seeing how to get him investigated by the authorities but only after I found a new job. Ick.

  23. Best served cold*

    OP, you are technically an employee that has been misclassified as an independent contractor. Which your boss should worry about, given how he treats you.

  24. Cordoba*

    I flatly refuse to work for anybody who lacks self control. Bearing is a fundamental leadership trait.

    If I see a boss blow their stack one time about *anything* towards *anybody* I start looking for another job or manager.

    I get that anybody can have a bad day or be frustrated/stressed, but full-on yelling/crying/name-calling is different and is a deal breaker for me. I don’t actually mind the yelling per se, but it causes me to lose all respect for the person doing it and I don’t want to work for somebody who I don’t respect.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with being “greedy” with respect to your own income. I am unabashedly greedy when raise and bonus season rolls around at work – of course I want to take home as much as I can. I don’t see a problem with this, money is the only reason I’m working in the first place.

    1. Bea*

      Hear hear! I tell everyone I interview with that’s my deal breaker “don’t yell at me or others.” Every decent human of a boss is shocked when I lay it out that way.

      I ran from a job where during my first week of training, the owner lost her mind and took a guy outside to scream at him for something. I woke up at 3am in a panic. I texted my old boss saying I was coming back. It worked since they hadn’t replaced me and I was still on standby. That was the moment I knew I needed to make it clear I’m not okay with screaming bosses.

  25. Teka*

    Based on my experiences of unreasonable people, two things are clear about this boss:

    1. He absolutely knew it was unreasonable for him to not give the OP a raise. That’s why he was so quick to spiral into defensiveness as soon as he was called on it.

    2. To unreasonable types, there are only two types of people in the world: those who are in his “bad books” and those who will be in his bad books sooner or later. If they’re targeting other people for now, they will always eventually turn on you.

  26. AKchic*

    Based on all of the LW’s additional comments, I would encourage the LW to report the boss to the proper authoritative body for an audit. Hopefully she will get a good whistleblower’s fee (if it exists in Canada), and any additional monies owed to her.

    You say this boss has done this to other people previously, but not you. Well, now he has started to do this to you. It’s a Ferris Wheel of abuse. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, but eventually, it is your turn to see the sights.

  27. wheeeee*

    “since I had received a larger than normal raise last year, I should’ve known that that would mean no raise this year”
    LW, your boss is loco.

  28. Argh!*

    I’m stuck with a grandboss who is like this, but he would never tear up any documentation of anything. Two years ago I got the line “You’re grateful to get any raise at all” from him & his assistant, then my boss repeated it. I was only asking for an extra $40-50/year! He taught me a lesson by giving me no raise last year.

    Yes, I’m looking for another job. I changed some prescriptions, switched to a high-deductible health plan, and cut a few other expenses, so I’m okay for now, but it’s the disrespectful way I was treated that really matters. I’ve had bad bosses, distracted bosses, absentee bosses, but this is the first time I’ve had evil, authoritarian, disrespectful bosses. I’ll trade for the other kinds!

    I keep hoping they’re the aberration, anyway.

  29. The Outsider*

    This reminds me of a grandboss I had when I was young. I had worked for the company 7 years 55-75 hrs weekly, we got minimal raises and he treated me like a child on so many occasions I lost count. What I didn’t do, was lose sight of the fact that this man had emotional problems and tying my career to him was a really bad idea. After a surprise pregnancy and a healthy baby, I decided to quit to raise her. My grandboss went off the deep end yelling and screaming at me throwing the fact that I used him to get my maternity leave and that I was throwing my career away when daycare could do just as good a job with the baby. I was sleep deprived and on edge and I started to cry. My husband had the baby out in the hall heard the commotion – stormed in – handed me the baby – told me to wait in the car. The last thing I heard from that job was my husband bringing down the roof on that man. Now normally I’m not the type to play damsel in distress and Lord knows, my husband hardly ever losses his temper, but that one afternoon solidified what I knew all along, that I could count on him to have my back. Also, I gave myself a wonderful gift that day – that I would never – EVER – work for someone who didn’t appreciate me. Twenty years later, I never have. Congrats to the OP for not backing down – for getting that raise but more importantly for demanding respect.

    1. Linzava*

      I love this story, I don’t see it as damsel in distress though, your husband stepped in when you were too exhausted to handle an unpredictable situation just like you would do for him. A true partnership.

      I’ve had a male employee bring his brother in to pick up his stuff because owner was an unpredictable jerk too.

  30. Remote Worker and Dog Lover*

    I’ve been in this situation before – a misclassified independent contractor whose boss got extremely upset when I asked for a higher raise than the one offered. They took it personally, took away the raise (which ironically enough included giving me employee status; this job was such a mess), basically threw a tantrum where they tried to emotionally manipulate me. I ended up leaving 2 months later, when I had secured a new job.

    LW, I’d get out of there. Yes, you’ve been there 10 years, but like Alison said, there has to be so many other great opportunities for you at this point. In my experience, companies that treat their contractors like crap aren’t pleasant to work for. Plus, your boss sounds incredibly frustrating.

  31. Hannah*

    Something similar happened to me at my first office job, working at a very small, fast-paced startup. I also had a boss (the CEO at the time) that I knew was prone to blowing up (this was her first startup and she wasn’t handling the stress well), but I’d always been on her good side. The first time I spoke to her about a possible raise, she lost her cool and 1. brought up a conversation from weeks before where I’d apparently had an “attitude”, 2. questioned my loyalty to the company in comparison to a coworker, and 3. informed me that I was already making more per hour than her nanny.

    I was convinced not to quit by another founder/exec, and looking back I’m actually glad I stayed, but I lost a lot of respect for my boss after her outburst.

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