{ 429 comments… read them below }

    1. anonykins*

      After a quick review, I ultimately decided that, with all of the news about the health risks of untreated concussions, the f*#!er who decided optics are more important than health gets my vote….

      1. Squid*

        Agreed! Dad-dating boss wins on boundary-smashing, CPS boss wins on nastiness, but only one of these was potentially life-threatening in an immediate sense.

        1. Psyche*

          Yeah, for me it was a toss up between the concussion and the violent coworker. Those two actually put people in danger.

            1. pope suburban*

              Agreed. I picked violent co-worker because I’ve been in that situation, and I know how scary it is. I’m so glad that no one got physically hurt, but the stress of always wondering and looking over one’s shoulder is profound. I’m furious with that company for taking it lightly and expecting people to just be vigilant against constant threats.

            2. MatKnifeNinja*

              If that’s the situation where the coworker slashed up the office chair, and management went *MEH*, that wins my vote.

              The whole thing had murder/suicide potential written all over it.

          1. Recent Anon Lurker*

            I played eenie meenie with these two as well because the potential outcomes make me worry the most there. With a dishonorable mention to the CPS prank – that should be a known NO.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Yeah, I narrowed it down to the ones that put people in physical danger, then I narrowed those down by the immediacy of said danger, and arrived at the non-ambulance-calling boss.

              1. Amber T*

                I actually missed that one when it was originally posted, so I got a whole new “whaaaaaat the f??” just when I thought the year had ended.

            2. Zombeyonce*

              I chose the CPS prank not because the prank itself was horrible, but because the fallout from it was so insane with the woman getting WRITTEN UP for being upset about it. So, so horrible.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Same – concussion for me but only by a hair. Both bosses put their employees at risk, the concussion risk was just a little more immediate and visible.

          3. AyBeeCee*

            Same. I had selected the chair-slashing coworker story first but changed my mind for the person who actually needed immediate medical care and was denied it because of … optics, ffs.

            1. MatKnifeNinja*

              I know too many peeople who have been denied medical while at work.

              That rotten boss is not that uncommon.

          4. Bostonian*

            Yeah, good point. And though the non-ambulance incident was pretty awful, it was just one incident, whereas the employer in the push-pin scenario had MULTIPLE chances to do something about this employee, and God knows how many people this employee would have harmed.

            1. Recent Anon Lurker*

              Or could still harm – they resigned, so it would be a lot harder to ban her from an office.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          That was pretty much my reasoning, too. Boundary crossing is bad, bad, bad…but making a person with a significant head injury sit around with paper towels soaking up the blood is just…it’s unconscionable. And ridiculous. And unnecessary.

          And while children vary, most of the kids I know would be fascinated rather than traumatized by Mrs. Whatever! Being taken away! In an ambulance! With sirens and everything!

          1. Safely Retired*

            As bad as it was to deny an ambulance being called when needed, I see that as a one-time failure of judgement. The other terrible bosses we have to choose from mostly reflect a continuing pattern of bad behavior. Anyone can screw up big time once, which is all we know about the ambulance case. We have three other choices where screwing up has been institutionalized, part of every day work.

              1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

                I used similar reasoning when I finally decided on the boss who was dating the dad. Her overall behavior was so screwed up on so many levels that I could easily see her denying medical treatment or using CPS as a prank, too.
                But it was a hard, hard decision.

              2. LGC*

                But not definitely. I can imagine a scenario where the headmaster isn’t especially bad, but freaked out and made a horrifically bad decision in this case.

                Don’t get me wrong, I agree that it’s prima facie evidence of a boss’s terribleness when they try to hide accidents because of appearances. (Unfortunately, this isn’t that uncommon, as someone else already cited Tesla’s clinic scandal and I believe that some of Amazon’s warehouses have also had similar issues, just to list two examples.) But Jill (the therapy boss) had waged a concerted campaign of abuse towards her employee (the LW) and quite likely her boyfriend (aka the LW’s dad). Although the consequences weren’t quite as acute and didn’t put an employee’s health at stake, if you held me at gunpoint I’d rather have Ambulance Headmaster than Jill as my boss.

            1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              A failure of judgement concerning healthcare when you work with kids is pretty bad though. They should be trained much better than this. What if a kid got hurt and he didn’t want the parents to see an ambulance and didn’t call one?

              1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                I have a sneaky suspicion if the principal is that scared of parents, there are a lot of other ways that professional boundaries are getting trampled, this is just the most egregious example.

            2. IDon’tRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              It’s a one time failure in judgement that had the potential result of death or lifelong brain injury for the injured teacher.
              I feel like the seriousness of the immediate consequences of that immense failure in judgment far outweigh the fact that it MIGHT have been a single serious lapse.

          2. JustaTech*

            A smart principal would have made the whole thing a teaching moment! “Everyone is going to make get-well-soon cards for Ms Tripped in art class.” “Library time will be reading [book about going to the hospital].”
            And what would that principal do if the person who was injured was a child? I mean, kids fall off the playground equipment all the time.

            1. Jen S. 2.0*

              Right! Who wants to think they send their kids to a school where the staff won’t call for help in an emergency!

        3. Ice and Indigo*

          Yeah, the ambulance one wins on endangerment, which is a compelling argument! For me, though, I had to go with the CPS prank, because that wins on sheer cruelty. Between being threatened with the loss of my child and given a concussion, I’d personally take the concussion.

          1. IDon’tRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            But the danger with a serious head injury like that isn’t just a concussion, it’s DEATH. Or permanent brain damage. And no one but an ER with the proper diagnostic equipment can determine the likely outcome of that kind of injury. More than one friend of mine has lost a loved one to a head injury that they didn’t go to the hospital for, that was FAR less serious on the surface than the one this teacher had. The person usually didn’t have insurance, and didn’t want a big ER bill for something that didn’t seem that bad, just a ‘bump on the head’…which then killed them within hours.
            Would you rather die or be left with permanent brain damage because of an incompetent principal who is too worried about “appearances” to call you an ambulance, or deal with a short period of fear because of a FAKE threat that your children would be taken away?

      2. Esme Squalor*

        This was my thought as well. These bosses are all horrific, but choosing to expose an employee unnecessarily to risk of death for the sake of keeping up appearances (especially given that calling an ambulance is actually FINE and in no way makes you look bad) is for sure the worst. The injured employee in this case could have had internal bleeding or another potentially fatal/time sensitive injury.

        1. Esme Squalor*

          Also, taking the human factor and basic concern for life out of the equation here, this boss is terrible from a colder, more corporate perspective, as the death of this employee through his negligence would have opened up the employer to a potentially financially devastating lawsuit.

      3. Stormfeather*

        Yeah, this. I had a tough time, because I soooo much wanted to vote for some of the others… but refusing to call an ambulance for someone who needs one is a special kind of horrible.

      4. Talbot*

        Without an update, that one actually came low on my list. It was obviously stupid and dangerous, but OP noted that it may has just been a bad judgement call on the stress of the first day, and was (hopefully) easily resolved with Allison’s strength-in-numbers approach. It would be nice to know if this was part of a pattern of behaviour or a one-time bad call.

      5. designbot*

        I wound up with a different evaluation framework, and chose CPS boss because she was the most actively bad—not a refusal to act, not doing anything that was in any way trying to get the job done, just being malicious for no reason.

        1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          With you on this one, designbot. She manufactured that evil out of thin air, for kicks. Then doubled down on it.

        2. chi type*

          This was exactly my thinking. We see aversion-to-confrontation boss here all the time and the push pin one is just an extreme version. The school one was awful but an understandable mindset (to me at least). The CPS one is just uncalled for, bizarre cruelty without a single possible justification.

      6. Light37*

        I also went with concussion, since that was potentially immediately life-threatening. But really, it was a hard call. All of them are horrid to the point where you expect Snidley Whiplash to show up at any moment and crown them Evildoer of the Year.

        1. Recent Anon Lurker*

          I almost wonder if Snidely Whiplash would just declare some of these too outrageous to be real. Truth can frequently be stranger (or more sinister) than fiction.

          (And yay for a Dudley Doright reference!)

      7. Emily K*

        Same. They were each worst in a different way but ultimately that one I decided had the most potentially irreversible damaging consequences.

        – Late fine boss = worst overreaction
        – Therapy boss = worst boundary violator
        – Fake CPS call boss = cruelest/least empathetic boss
        – Refusal to discipline boss = most negligent/useless boss
        – Refusal to call ambulance boss = could get someone killed, paralyzed, permanent brain damage, etc

        (Spy boss actually doesn’t seem that bad compared to the others, which is saying something because it’s still several standard deviations beyond OK.)

      8. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        I also came down to choosing between the actual physical injury (no-ambulance boss) and the threat of violence (knife-slashing vandalism/thumbtacks), and decided to go with the no-ambulance boss. To actually deny proper medical attention for such an injury… beyond bad.

    2. TooTiredToThink*

      Same. I decided to rule out any that actually ended up getting reprimanded, simply because even though they *were* a bad boss; that means they no longer are. Sadly that still leaves a few to choose from.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I semi-wish there were multiple categories because so many of this year’s finalists are so so awful.

    4. 2019IstheYear*

      It was a tie between two for me. Yet, all are really “horrible bosses”. Glad I never had to deal with the likes of them.

    1. Sleepytime Tea*

      Ultimately I just had to go with the boss who refused to call an ambulance for the injured teacher. I mean seriously, we’re talking potentially significant physical harm here. What kind of person decides the most important thing they can do is hide a bleeding person in a back room instead of calling an ambulance?

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I voted for didn’t call an ambulance boss – but still wish LW who wouldn’t let the person with the leap year birthday take a day off when everyone else got the day off could have made the list. I still think ambulance thing was worse, but leap years don’t get birthdays deserved to be in the top ten.

  1. NextTimeGadget*

    Oh my god they’re all so awful. I keep re-reading the posts and being sure THIS IS THE ONE that is the worst of the worst…for all of them. Lord almighty.

  2. Amber Rose*

    The vote feels much more difficult this year than last year. These bosses suck! They are all winners losers in my opinion.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Yeah. Last year I was down to two solid choices and went with one that I thought felt more represented an overall mindset that sucked vs a single moment. This year it’s even harder to do that. 8•\

    1. HappySnoopy*

      I ended up going with the principal just because of active interference in preventing appropriate medical care in an emergency. But…wow, so hard yo choose.

      1. GermanGirl*

        Yeah, I did the same.

        Since the question was raised in the original answer, whether the principal did something illegal, here is my comment on that:

        In Germany that kind of interference would have been illegal. Forbidding the nurse to call an ambulance is either failing to help a person in need or hindering people who help a person in need or even obstructing emergency services if the nurse counts as that.
        All of these sentences carry at least a hefty fine, or one year in prison (https://dejure.org/gesetze/StGB/323c.html).

    2. Marthooh*

      I asked myself “Who’s the crunchiest bananacracker in the box?” and I finally had to go with Jill the Therapy Stepmom.

    3. Glitsy Gus*

      I finally went with the boss who called CPS. I put that one at the top because it was so purely malicious and vindictive. The fact she tried to write it off as a “joke” and then penalized the employee for getting mad was just so personal and cruel.

    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      I didn’t think it would be possible that someone who called an employee impersonating CPS would have any competition for Worst Boss title, but here we are.

      (I voted for couple’s therapy boss. That enmeshment.)

      1. Me (I think)*

        Right, I remembered that letter and thought this was an obvious choice. Then I started reading the others. Some serious WTF moments in all of them.

      2. Urdnot Bakara*

        Ah, Kalros, we meet again!

        Yeah, I voted for the employer (it was multiple people) who wouldn’t do anything about the employee who left pushpins in someone’s chair, etc., but the CPS boss and the couple’s therapy boss were really bad, too! I’m glad the CPS boss story had a satisfying update, though.

        1. shep*

          I deeply enjoy these ME usernames.

          Also I CANNOT seem to pick one of these bosses because they are all so incredibly terrible.

          1. Urdnot Bakara*

            Commander, glad you could join us.

            They really are just so, so bad this year. I think I missed the first run of email/camera boss and no ambulance boss–good grief! There’s also something particularly sinister about the boss implementing the fines.

          2. Garry WhatTheHairian*

            I know!
            The sheer concentration of horrific management is so bad that we’ll have to recalibrate all our bad management sensors after this.

  3. LGC*

    There’s only one boss on that list who is bad enough to go by one name.

    Godspeed, Jill, and hopefully your boyfriend has long since broken up with you.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I’m going with boundary trampling couples therapy as well. I think the one who refused to call an ambulance will probably win (and the CAS boss certainly deserves honourable mention!), but I want to make sure Jill gets at least a few votes in her “favour.”

      1. LGC*

        Couples therapy boss. She was pretty early in the year (like March or so – they’re all linked).

        The LW was eventually able to get out I think, but when she wrote in her dad was still with Jill.

    2. Kes*

      This is what I also went with based on the length and degree of trauma they put poor OP through. However, it was a tough choice, given that no ambulance boss could have endangered their employee’s life when they were clearly injured. At that rate, CPS boss, who while awful played a one time prank, and sliced chair boss, whose employees may have felt unsafe but weren’t actually hurt, had to fall down the list, and the other two, while still bad, barely register in comparison.

      1. LGC*

        Honestly, I think the employer with the $2/minute fine is up there because the LW ended up giving her salary.

        Which was…basically she got fined eight times her salary. And her boss was okay with this.

        1. J Kate*

          I agree. For employees in lower paying jobs like that, a small amount of money can make a big difference. That one made me so mad. The ambulance one too. The others were ridiculous and couples therapy boss was over the top ridiculous, but didn’t quite make my blood boil in the same way as those two.

          1. LGC*

            To be honest, Jill was sui generis, so I still stand by my vote for her as the worst boss of 2018 (and it wasn’t even close for me). And to be honest, I could have seen her forcing her employee to pay $120/hr. To her couples therapist.

            But yeah – I think that one made me the most angry on a visceral level. It shows a blatant callousness towards their entry level employees – $2/min may not sound like much at first, but it adds up really quickly! And it disproportionately impacts those who can least afford it, as demonstrated by the LW. The fact that higher earners were telling her to suck it up and give her job $90 (that’s groceries for at least a week! Maybe two if you’re really smart about it!) just for oversleeping once is probably the single cruelest thing in this list, and that’s saying something.

      2. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        I believe in Jill. Given the opportunity she absolutely WOULD have endangered her employee’s life and possibly faked a CPS call too. Given how monumentally bad her work/personal judgment was and how nonexistent her respect for her employee was, I’m sure the rest would follow.

        1. JLCBL*

          I picked Jill too because of the lasting damage to the OP. And you are so, so right. Give her the chance and she would do all these things.

          1. Relly*

            Yeah, this. Past potential damage into actual damage, that employee is going to have scars, meaning it’s got the worst outcome. Plus that boss was the worst at actual boss-ing, imvho.

    3. Works in IT*

      As someone whose father sometimes loses touch with reality and expects me to ridiculous things “because I just want you to succeed” I had to vote for this one. Boss who refused to call an ambulance is a close second, but at least the employee in question got to the hospital eventually. After the news articles about a certain electronic car company not letting its employees go to the hospital, or be treated at its on site clinic, I find a mere delay in getting treatment to be not that bad.

    4. This Daydreamer*

      I was stuck between her and the no-ambulance boss. I went with Jill because of how much she did to hurt the LW and her father.

      No-ambulance boss may not have realized the extent of the danger but Jill knew exactly what she was doing.

    1. Anon and alone*

      I totally agree. I went with the one who got the most support from the commentariat, that would be Jill (therapy boss). But, oh, it was tough.

  4. Elemeno P.*

    This was a tough one! I went with the CPS boss, but $2/minute late fee boss and no ambulance boss were close behind.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      For me, the $2/minute late fee is the only one I would eliminate! She’s still pretty terrible, but stacked up against head injury boss, and dating-my-dad couples therapy boss, and CPS boss, I feel like the late fees boss just isn’t quite evil enough.

      Never thought I would say something like that, but it’s a pretty stellar list this year apparently.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        See, I figured it was pretty evil because a) that is a LOT of money for no reason and b) one would assume that the boss is pocketing that money. The only one I eliminated outright was the cameras/BCC email boss because it’s super invasive but, as of writing, it didn’t actively harm anyone.

        1. Works in IT*

          The fact that similar policies are apparently common in the letter writer’s country drops it down a bit for me. Yes it’s horrible, but it’s more ugh this culture is terrible than specific boss is terrible. It’s like the thing with private emails that’s going around, when everyone’s doing it, calling out one person for doing it is kind of pointless, and makes the person doing the calling out look out of touch with reality.

          Now if there was a “stupidest, most non sensical business practices” list, I would happily put that and demanding to know a job candidate’s salary range at the top.

      2. Doug Judy*

        The couples therapy boss was actually the one that was easy to eliminate because their awfulness isn’t as widespread.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          Yeah, that’s a really sucky situation for the OP, but it was as much personal as it was work-related. I went CPS because that’s just no-holds-barred, inexcusably, phantasmagorically malicious.

      3. whistle*

        I voted or $2/minute late fee boss simply because the very point of working is to make money! This violates the basic foundation of the employee-employer relationship! (And like Elemeno P, I think the boss is pocketing the money.)
        But, man, I can’t fault anyone for voting for any of these glassbowls. What a crew.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, I went with CPS boss because it was so intentionally evil and she thought it was FUNNY. I mean, some of these awful bosses thought they were making a good business decision, which doesn’t make them less awful, but at least I can see a tiny crumb of twisted logic behind their actions. But this psycho just thought she was making a joke.

      1. Person of Interest*

        Yeah, the intentional cruelty of CPS boss, including writing up the target of her joke, did it for me.

    3. Koala dreams*

      Really difficult to choose among such a range of bad bosses! I voted for the late fee boss, but I really wanted to vote for all of them. ;)

    4. Charlotte Collins*

      I ended up going with no-ambulance boss, because the employee could have died and possible has permanent damage from the injury. CPS boss came a very close second for me.

  5. Micromanagered*

    I gotta go with the boss who refused to call an ambulance for an injured employee who had a head injury! That’s life or death.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      That was my reasoning. When the person is unable to advocate for herself due to injury and everyone else is dithering…

      1. Cranky Kate*

        Same here. You don’t mess around with a head injury — ever. The other bosses were each awful in their own special way, but this one really stood out.

    2. esra*

      Same, CPS boss was a contender, but no ambulance boss won out because it had the potential for worst consequences.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        I voted for CPS boss because that was a deliberately planned nasty thing to do, whereas I can tell myself headinjury boss “merely” made some really bad decisions in a sudden, unexpected, stressful situation.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          That was pretty much my thinking. The pins on chair boss came a close second because that just allows a culture where employees are constantly needing to look over their shoulder/be on their guard. That boss need(ed) to fire that particular employee with extreme prejudice.

          1. esra*

            I was genuinely torn. Because one had legit bad intent, but the other could’ve killed someone. I figured I’d rather be wronged and alive than vice versa.

            1. Positive Reframer*

              I mean the thumbtack thing seems to be just a bad day away from potential/attempted murder. Actively allowing an employee to bodily harm another employee and to make violent threats against other employees combines psychological and physical danger.

              1. IDon’tRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                Yeah, ambulance boss was my first choice too because of the life & death aspect. Pins on a chair boss is second because of the actual harm & physical threats that were involved- I can’t see it taking much for her to move on to actual assault.
                Therapy boss is for sure a boundary stomping bananacracker, but didn’t have the same immediate life or death/bodily harm aspect so ends up a distant third.

    3. stitchinthyme*

      Yes, that was my reasoning as well. The others were horrible, no question, but someone could have died as a result of this boss’s (in)action.

    4. Murphy*

      Me too…and the only reason was the optics. (Not that there’s any good reason, but this wasn’t even remotely understandable!)

    5. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I went with this one, too. I recently had a medical incident at work that resulted in an ambulance ride to the hospital, so this issue is a very sensitive one for me right now. Luckily, all of my coworkers/managers were wonderful, compassionate, and caring. I can’t imagine how much worse things would have been had I been forced to find my own ride to the ER (in Midtown Manhattan in rush hour).

        1. Spreadsheets and Books*

          I do, thank you. Just a freak event that further testing has thus been unable to explain. Luckily, my great coworkers made what could have been super traumatizing only somewhat upsetting.

    6. Snow Drift*

      I had trouble deciding between that and CPS, but ultimately the preplanned deception of the CPS prank just felt a tad more sinister.

    7. Ann O'Nemity*

      I had to vote for no ambulance for the same reason. The employee literally could have died.

      Also, the “optics” excuse doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. Obviously some of the parents and kids saw the teacher fall and saw that the school’s response was to do… nothing. As a parent, *that* would freak me out! Would the principal make the same call if it was my kid?!

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        And what about the optics of the fact that the staff of an educational institute should be modeling the behavior you want to see in the kids? I knew how to dial 911 before I left grade school. (And Donald Duck taught us what to do when the house is on fire. Check the doorknob before opening the door, Huey, Dewey, and Louie!) I’d be to the school board in a heartbeat if my kid had gone to the school and I found out about this.

    8. kitryan*

      Yup, my vote went to the one where they could have easily killed someone by withholding treatment. Though they’re all horrible bosses in my book and couples therapy boss wins for WTFery. It’s like the Miss Congeniality for horrible bosses!

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        It’s also being a bad employee. The school could be liable for any injuries due to withholding treatment.

    9. A Very Smart Airhead*

      Same here. They’re all horrifying (You all win! You’re the worst boss! You’re the worst boss! You’re the worst boss!) but in that case the person literally could have died. And if I were a parent at that school and knew that happened, my kids would be out of there immediately (I do know how privileged that statement is, but jeepers!) and I’d literally tell anyone who’d listen. The fact that it’s a school makes it that much worse… how would that principle had acted if a kid had fallen and hit their head like that?!?

    10. Adaline B.*

      Yea that’s what I picked too. Have to admit I’m probably a little biased tho. Had a head injury as a result of a very bad car accident 2+ years ago and I *still* suffer side effects >.<

      Head injuries are no.joke.

  6. Artemesia*

    Hard to choose; such a rich year of dysfunction. I went with CPS — the legal ramifications of that made it stand out — but family therapy was a close second.

    1. CleverName*

      That’s what I went with, too! Calling CPS is just Not Funny. It’s so far beyond the pale, I think I was literally slack-jawed when I read that one.

      The family therapy one, though. That woman is also a monster. But joking about having someone’s kids taken away is worse.

      It’s sad that there is any close ties with situations this crazy.

  7. Not a robot*

    I still wish we could put the manager who thinks her employee who was born on a leap year doesn’t deserve the birthday perk everyone else got because her birthday technically only came around once every four years on this list

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      For people wondering about that, I don’t nominate letter-writers, since I wouldn’t want anyone to fear that if they wrote in for advice, they could end up on this list.

      That said, I’m interested in the level of ire that one got. I mean, that person is ridiculous and certainly wins for Least Critical Thinking Skills, but if you look at the actual offense committed, refusing to get someone medical treatment or requiring that an employee attend couples counseling in order to keep their job (or any of the others on this list) seems objectively worse than not giving someone one day off that everyone else gets. It’s fascinating that people’s level of outrage was greatest over that one.

      1. Erin*

        That makes sense, and when you think of it that way, in terms of how great the actual offense was or how badly is affected someone’s life, it makes it hard for me to vote for the fining someone for being late boss. Even though I really want to vote for that one.

      2. CR*

        Probably because the letter writer refused to see how ridiculous she was being; even her update was basically like “Thanks but no thanks, I’m going to continue being awful.”

        1. Esme Squalor*

          Yes, exactly. I think it’s both that the letter writer doubled down so stubbornly AND that it was such a petty and punitive measure that almost seemed to take more effort to do than just behaving fairly. With many terrible bosses, I can wrap my head around their motivations (for example, the boss who was dating the letter writer’s dad had poor boundaries and wanted to feel “right,” and the boss with the cameras is a control freak). But I can’t even begin to understand the birthday dictator’s motivations or rationale.

        2. boo bot*

          Yeah, I think it’s because the letter writer was the one who wrote in – if the Leap Day employee had written, I think my mental response would have been calmer (I don’t recall if I commented, but I remember finding it outrageous).

          I think part of it is seeing the thought process behind the decision-making. I tend to err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes… they remove all doubt. I think it was a much less-egregious version of the boss who wrote in about the employee who quit rather than skip her own graduation (which, as the boss knew, she had reached despite extraordinarily difficult circumstances).

        3. Sandy*

          Yes. There’s nothing more infuriating (on a petty level) than someone who does the wrong thing and is confident they are Righteous(it’s not ILLEGAL?? as if that is the sole arbiter of correct action).

      3. Elizabeth*

        I suspect it has to do with the LW’s attitude. Had they been a little less “this is how it is and so it must remain”, they probably wouldn’t have drawn the level of outrage they did.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, if the employee had written in, we’d probably be saying “Your boss is a loon!” and moving on. The fact that we were hearing directly from the boss, and they were so insistent they were right? Outrageous.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            Yes, exactly!

            If any of the bad bosses in this poll had written in and insisted they were right, I think the outrage would have been far worse. Imagine the reaction the no ambulance boss would have gotten from the commenters! “SHE COULD HAVE DIED, YOU INSENSITIVE PSYCHO!” etc etc

      4. 5 Leaf Clover*

        I think it is because the lack of logic is so mind-boggling. The other bosses are crueler and more evil, but there is something endlessly fascinating about someone whose mind just doesn’t work the way most minds do. It’s like why the flat earth movement is so endlessly interesting.

        1. Sam.*

          This is part of it for me. Like, the ambulance boss was unforgivable, but you can at least imagine what her thought process looked like (“Parents are going to make my life a nightmare if they think this place is unsafe.”) especially if you assume she panics during emergencies. This one is so frustrating because they’ve had plenty of time to think this through rationally and have still landed on the most nonsensical conclusion. And it’s SO PETTY. Personal spite is literally the only explanation I can come up with for this.

          1. boo bot*

            Yes, this exactly. Especially the pettiness. I think I just have a personal fascination with pettiness.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              It’s like when I worked in customer service and quickly realized that people get the maddest about the smallest amounts of money. (Angriest letter I ever saw was over a *voluntary* recoup of less than a dollar. You didn’t have to pay it! And you sure as heck didn’t need to return the letter with snarky comments! Which went to a stranger who had nothing to do with it besides working at the company.)

          2. Kathleen_A*

            Yeah, it’s just so ridiculous and OBVIOUSLY unfair and petty that I just can’t stand it. There are worse offenses, for sure. But aaaauuurrrrgh! You know?

      5. PB*

        That is a good point. I wonder if it’s because it reminded us of real life experiences with bad bosses? I’ve had some experiences, but I’ve never had a boss try to drag me to couple’s therapy or do nothing while I bled out. Bosses who try to revoke days off, however, are more relatable. In addition, having the OP there doubling down and defending herself, so we saw the behavior and thought process first-hand made it a bit more disturbing.

      6. Not Really a Waitress*

        I think my outrage comes from it being so petty and small minded. I had a boss who would not call me by my nickname because he “didn’t believe in nicknames” . My nickname is a derivative of the name on my birth certificate. It is what my parents call me. It is my preferred name. He refused to call me by it. Until I refused to answer to anything else. I think this is similar in that it’s not work or performance related. Instead the manager is refusing to acknowledge or accept something that is at the core of the employee’s identity.

          1. nonegiven*

            I have an uncle on each side named Billy, on their birth certificates, plus a cousin named Beth, on her birth certificate.

      7. anonanonanon*

        For me, it was also because it would be SUCH an easy fix. Just do it. Instead OP went with pettiness and laziness, and it sticks in my craw.

          1. KHB*

            I read it as extreme stubbornness. The more she digs her heels in, the harder it is to un-dig them, because of the progressively greater loss of face from admitting she was wrong.

      8. stitchinthyme*

        In addition to what everyone else said, I suspect at least part of it is because the other bad bosses were described by their employees; it wasn’t the bosses themselves who wrote in, so the employee (and commenters) can only speculate as to their motivation and reasoning. Since the leap year boss was also the LW, she disclosed her reasoning right in the letter and update, so there’s not much of a question about it, and no way to rationalize the behavior as possibly not being as bad as we thought.

      9. Arctic*

        I kind of think the reaction was kind of OTT considering the offense was one less personal day (which is bad but not as bad as many things) but I think it happened because of the victim blaming. Like the Leap Year birthday person was completely in the wrong.
        It probably reminded a lot of people of the many times their completely valid complaints or concerns were dismissed or even belittled either at work or in a personal relationship. It happens to everyone in some form. And is, thus, very relateable.
        I remember the boss who wrote in around this time last year because her employee who had skin cancer many times used a blanket when outside and she found that unacceptable. And the update was essentially that she was fired for it. There was a lot of ire over that but not nearly the level this bad. And that was much worse. But I think it’s just the victim there wasn’t someone experiencing a form of something everyone has and the boss was more matter-of-fact rather than trying to justify it.

        1. Esme Squalor*

          It’s not just about the one day off, though, although that’s also important. I think most people were responding to the isolating and demoralising feeling of being barred from a workplace practice that literally everyone else gets to participate in. Just like the second updater in that same post was heartbroken to receive a stuffed bear for her ten-year working anniversary when everyone else received lavish and thoughtful gifts–it wasn’t because she really, really wanted a nice vacation. It was that being singled out felt like being told “you’re not as important” and “you’re not valued here.”

          1. Charlotte Collins*


            I once had a boss that neglected to arrange for everyone to go out to lunch to celebrate my birthday. I hated her by then and was fine not going, but it still was isolating that we did it for everyone else.

            She was terrible in other ways, and I sometimes read letters and wonder if she’s the one being described.

        2. Trinity Beeper*

          Yes, that’s why it’s stuck out in my mind so much. We have a boss at my job who loves to victim-blame and then back it up with rules/facts (that are totally arbitrary and cherry-picked, mind you). I sent that article to my team members and they immediately got the parallel. Now we reference the metaphor around the office in subtle ways when we’re feeling frustrated.

      10. Girl friday*

        I wouldn’t say greatest, but people who discriminate in small things often discriminate in other ways as well. I think that’s why people got so upset.

      11. Murphy*

        It was the sheer ridiculousness of it…and that not only could they not understand the other side of the issue, they doubled down after getting feedback.

      12. Molly Franken Strole*

        I think the reason that LW was so frustrating was that it seems so incredibly petty deny ONE employee a relatively small benefit because of a technicality. It wouldn’t cost the company much to give this one person a giftcard and the day off on her birthday. I can’t think of a reason to not to give this employee the same perks unless the manager is just being mean-spirited.

        1. Me (I think)*

          And other employees can take the closest weekday off when their birthday falls on a weekend or holiday, so it’s not like it’s an “only on your actual birthday date” policy anyway. Totally ridiculous.

      13. Annie*

        I also think that got people’s ire up because the basic attitude – “this person is not being a team player because they aren’t going along quietly with a policy that punishes them, and I categorically refuse to engage with any argument otherwise” – could make that boss into *any* of the above bosses.

        As in: Well, it’s policy that we don’t call an ambulance in front of the students, and she had plenty of other options like walking to the hospital. Well, all of the email sent on our servers technically belongs to us, so anyone who complains about that and the cameras has a serious attitude problem that we need to discuss.

        1. Antilles*

          This is a really, really good point.
          As an example, the below paragraph from OP’s update could be ripped straight from any of the bosses on the list with only minor additions (italics=my added text):
          “The firm is not doing anything illegal by the laws here. Per state law, we are not required to call ambulances if our employees have medical emergencies. She would have no legal case at all and if she quit she will not be able to get unemployment. She is not job hunting. She has known about the 9-1-1 policy since February of 2016 and has been bringing it up ever since. She has complained but has not looked for another job (the market is niche and specialized). Morale is high at the firm. Turnover among employees is low. Many people want to work here. Aside from this one issue she is a good worker and would be given an excellent reference if she decides to look elsewhere in the future.”

      14. Amber Rose*

        It felt like a letter written by a bully, explaining that bullying the different person was totally justifiable and that complaining about being bullied put that person in the wrong. I think it’s just easier for a lot of us to relate to that kind of experience. While we can all agree that refusing to call an ambulance or pretending to be CPS is horrifying, I can’t really say I have any idea how that feels. Whereas I definitely know how being bullied feels.

        It just strikes a personal chord, is all. I wouldn’t vote for it if it was on the list, but I also feel like it should be on the list (even though I fully support your reasons for not doing so.)

        1. Esme Squalor*

          Yes, great point! It did feel like it was written by a bully, and I think that’s why I, for one, had such a strong response to it. I often catch up on Ask A Manager in batches, and typically I don’t participate in threads that are a couple of days old, but with that one, I found it four days later, and not only participated, but read EVERY SINGLE comment of the 1,000+ replies. It just got to me in a way I haven’t experienced since the boss who wouldn’t let his stellar employee attend her own graduation and wanted to berate her for being unprofessional when she quit.

        2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          I agree. The absurdity of it got people’s attention because it really sounds like something from a workplace comedy. But the outrage is because it was a clear case of bullying. OP and their manager are using whatever means they have to put a person down. They’d give the employee the damn day off otherwise.

      15. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        You know, I think it has a lot to do with the level of petty mean spiritedness and self righteous justification. Sure, this boss isn’t gunning for your organs. But they don’t care about you, they don’t see you as a person, and they will go out of their way to screw you on even the smallest thing just because they can. They are Ebeneezer Scrooge minus the capacity for learning. They are the person in line at the grocery store with two overflowing carts at the only open checkout line who doesn’t offer to let the person behind them who is holding one item jump ahead of them. They are a pizza burn on the roof of the world’s mouth. And I guess since everyone has chance encounters with jerks, encountering the rational of a jerk on why they are totally right and will keep on applying the jerkeration reeeeeally touches a nerve.

      16. Queen Anne*

        I think it’s because it’s one of the few times that commenters got to address the bad boss directly and couldn’t resist.

      17. Kes*

        Agreed. I get why everyone was/is frustrated with that OP, but the actual impact of not getting a perk vs the actions or refusal to act of some of the other bosses just doesn’t compare.

      18. ISuckAtUserNames*

        I also have kind of forgotten just how many really bad bosses we had this year. In comparison to the nominees, you’re quite right, but I had forgotten (blocked out?) a lot of them.

      19. Rusty Shackelford*

        If we had the non-ambulance-caller here, explaining to us why it was so logical to not call the ambulance, I’m sure there would have been an equal amount of outrage.

        1. KHB*

          I think that because it’s so hard to imagine the other bosses writing in with the same courage of their convictions as Leap Year Boss (e.g., “How do I get my employee to stop complaining about not getting prompt medical care for her head injury?”), we may be subconsciously giving them the benefit of the doubt that if they were to write in themselves, it would be with at least some openness to the possibility that they’d made the wrong call.

          Of course, if I didn’t already know that the Leap Year Boss letter existed, I’d find it hard to imagine that one, too.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Absolutely — you can see awful behavior and make up a story in your head about why the person thought it wasn’t so bad (or the best of a set of bad options, etc.). Leap Day boss told us what they were thinking!!

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Can you imagine the acceptance speeches if the Bad Boss Awards had an actual ceremony where they accepted the awards?

              The self-justification would be off the charts!

      20. Not So NewReader*

        I think the outrage went sky high because the answer is so clearly obvious and the boss could not see it. We’d probably see the same level of reaction if a LW insisted that trees are pink. How can you not see that trees are green?

        Looking back over the years the outrage has usually spiked if the letter writer locked into a poor decision. Once in a while 500 plus posts to the contrary manage convince a LW that they are correct. If they have already decided why did they even bother asking. Can’t help people who don’t want help.

      21. Snork Maiden*

        I think it’s the Trunchbull effect (from Matilda) – if you’re going to be bad, awful, evil – go all the way out, because it’s so far out of the societal norms people have a harder time grasping the magnitude of your cruelty. Whereas a petty thing like denying a birthday – that’s something we can all relate to.

  8. KylieHR*

    I had such a hard time deciding, but I think it’s telling that so far the boss who was surveilling his employees is getting the least votes. Everyone else is so bad that that guy is the least terrible boss.

    1. Nita*

      Yeah, that’s crazy! Oh, and I thought that one was doubly creepy because the letter writer responded once in the comments (from work), said they’d write more once they get home, then… nothing.

    2. Recent Anon Lurker*

      Agreed, sort of like the best of the worst. He’s overbearing but some of these bosses were creating dangerous or cruel situations.

    3. Kes*

      I think the thing is that a) companies often have some ability to surveil their employees, they’re just taking it too far, b) we don’t know if they actually are watching/reading the emails, or if they just want to be able to, and c) there isn’t actually a ton of impact to the employees beyond being somewhat uncomfortable, whereas most of the others have a very clear negative and serious impact

      1. Minocho*

        I voted for the surveillance boss because it’s the guy at the very top, doing it to everyone, and the illegality is appalling. The ambulance one almost got my vote, and it was a serious issue, but it sounds like a one time issue – like one REALLY AWFUL judgement call, instead of an ongoing engagement with awfulness. Boundaries crossing Jill was terrible, but was only making one person (absolutely – it’s still awful!) miserable.


        I will say, this makes me grateful for my current leadership team. There are frustrations and issues, but I can respect all of them.

    4. Thornus67*

      I voted for surveillance boss because, while I don’t think those actions are the most egregious, I worked in a workplace like that. And in that workplace, the surveillance (which was just the e-mails, there were no video or audio recordings by the bosses that I was aware of) was just the tip of the iceberg and spoke of even bigger issues. Is that the case here? I don’t know. But voting for surveillance boss made me feel like I was voting for my old boss and what I think was one of the most toxic places ever.

    5. Becca*

      That was the only one I didn’t really consider. I read it and thought, “well, yeah that’s pretty crazy but I don’t really think it stands up to the others.”

      (I settled on the push pins company. Head injury was a very very close second, but thinking about how terrifying that push pins coworker would be, over an extended period of time while nothing gets done, and What Could Have Happened gives me shivers. Especially with the update. The escalation and it only being resolved in that the immediate problem went away–the management is as bad as ever.)

  9. Katie McG*

    So many good choices for bad boss. But I also would like to see the “no birthday for you, leap year person” on the list!

    1. CoveredInBees*

      This is a reason for that. AAM doesn’t nominate letter writers as worst boss of the year because it might discourage future letter writers. If it were a leaner year, maybe she could be convinced but I had trouble deciding as it was. For me, there were four in the running for top (bottom?) choice and I ended up picking one at random because I couldn’t decide among: no ambulance, couples therapy, thumbtack bandit, and CPS faker. They all deserve our scorn.

  10. Shinobi42*

    Why is “boss who wants us to help justify not giving their leap year birthday employee a day off for their birthday” not on here. Grrrrr.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Generally AAM won’t list a bad boss who writes to her directly. Although the lack of self awareness on that was pretty bad.

      1. Arctic*

        I think it’s a good policy just because of basic manners. Don’t mock the people who write into you this way. It’s not classy.
        But the few letters that would have qualified for worst boss had enough self-awareness that it would have prevented them from writing.

  11. Kate, short for Bob*

    It took a while because they’re all so egregious, but I ended up going for the late-fine boss who effectively charged her employee for working that morning. Just because that’s such a fundamental error in what hiring people is

    I also want to know if there was an update..?

    1. Nessun*

      Just re-read all the comments on that one to look for an update… I would have picked it too, except upon re-reading I also noticed it’s a company wide policy (which blows my mind), so I’d like to nominate the whole freakin’ company instead of just the boss!

      1. Recent Anon Lurker*

        Yikes – that whole place is dysfunctional. I made it about half way through that comment section before I go swallowed up by needing to take care of my kids (and the younger being sick……….sick toddlers are just about the worst to deal with because they just really haven’t yet developed the experience to know it’s temporary).

    1. Bigintodogs*

      They can’t be considered because it was the manager who wrote in and not an employee of that manager. Terrible boss though.

      1. Esme Squalor*

        I was hoping Alison would give us a loophole and include that letter writer’s boss, who apparently upheld the leap year policy and agreed with the letter writer that the employee was being “whiny.”

  12. Not Really a Waitress*

    I just don’t know if I can choose a favorite… I mean least favorite. They are all awful in a unique way.

    1. London Engineer*

      I get that the leap year letter was infuriating, but I seriously question the people who think it was worth than the life-threatening behaviour or full blown emotional abuse described by some of these examples.

      I get that it was more recent and petty dictators can be the most annoying but some perspective is needed…

  13. Amanda*

    The boss-dating-employee’s-dad-couples therapy letter was one of my favorites this year. Not because it was so awful (it was!) but because it pulled in over 1200 comments from people in support of helping OP find a new job! I think it kicked off with one person volunteering to buy the AAM resume review, followed by Allison saying she would do it for free and continued with people AROUND THE COUNTRY (WORLD?) offering to help OP find a job. I loved how everyone tried to pull together for a total stranger in a really terrible situation!

    Allison, can we get an update on this OP and her job search? Thanks for all you do!!

  14. I Should Probably Be Working*

    The boss who keeps trying to justify not giving a Leap Year baby their birthday off. The update email really did them in.

  15. Bigintodogs*

    So hard to choose! I chose the couple’s therapy one because there was more than just that and that woman had serious boundary issues even without the therapy part. CPS and $2/minute fine were close contenders though.

  16. Labradoodle Daddy*

    How did I miss the boss who didn’t call an ambulance for their employee???? Absolutely awful, that has my vote (with $2 a minute in a very close second place).

  17. 5 Leaf Clover*

    I had to chose CPS boss. I agree with the person who said ambulance boss has the worst possible consequences… but the fear of losing one’s children is so extreme that the cruelty here is indescribable.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      Ditto – plus I blame the nurse more then the boss in the ambulance one. I realize your boss telling you what to do and all that, but hello, medical training!

      1. Recent Anon Lurker*

        Want to play devils advocate for that nurse – she may not have actually been a school employee. There has not been an employee nurse at any of the schools my oldest has attended, but two had regular volunteers who were also liscensed nurses. As a former teacher I know that volunteers can be banned for almost any reason if it’s the principal doing the banning. Volunteer may have wanted to be able to stay a volunteer to help the students.
        And also, at least there was a nurse there to help the hurt teacher.

  18. hbc*

    What the heck kind of year is it when the boss who is monitoring every office through video, audio, and email doesn’t have a chance of winning?

    Maybe it’s not the right metric, but I had to go with CPS boss for malicious intent. Like, maybe you think that the head injury isn’t a bad one, or that you’re helping your boyfriend and his daughter form a better family unit, but you only write someone up for daring to talk about your child-removing prank if you’re some golem made of malice and cruelty.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      This is where I came down. The level of intentional maliciousness here is mindblowing. Head injury boss is more ordinary callous, family therapy boss is probably kind of messed up around boundaries herself, and $2/minute boss is micromanaging and on a power trip in a kind of terrible-but-also-commonplace way. CPS boss is just a straight-up bad person.

    2. Recent Anon Lurker*

      I ended up voting for push pin boss after playing eenie meenie, but agree for sheer stupidly cruel CPS prank boss takes the cake. My second was didn’t call an ambulance, but that was speaking as the daughter and granddaughter of nurses – you DO NOT EVER mess around with treating a head injury.

    3. Liane*

      “Golem made of malice and cruelty.”
      This is so eloquent. I can see Alison borrowing this.
      Hypothetical LW: Tale of workplace woe & supervillainous boss. Is my boss a loon?
      AAM: Your boss is a golem made of malice and cruelty, and won’t change. I’m sorry.

    4. emmelemm*

      I agree, and I don’t even have children, but just imagining having such a “prank” played on a mother and the anguish it would cause seems like the far worst thing I can imagine. Thinking that’s FUNNY??! And then doubling down when the mother is upset?

      I can’t even I need to lie down…

  19. London Engineer*

    Hi Alison, I know its been mentioned before, but do you have any plans for a more positive end of year poll – best boss/best update/best company response? I think it would be interesting to see a range of good responses for dealing with these sort of issues…

    And as an example of how a letter could cover both, a while back we had the dying horse letter where the immediate supervisor was awful but the company responded very well once they were notified of the full situation.. (And many thanks for the updates in general, they are one of my favourite parts about the site)

    1. Iced Cappuccino*

      I would love to see this. For me the best update was when LW got to keep the check a client gave her to get back at her boss.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Let me see what I can come up with! Traditionally I haven’t done “best boss” because we never really know enough about the situation. Someone could be great in one specific way, but also sucks at giving feedback or breaks all kinds of labor laws or is sexually harassing an employee or so forth. So I’m too wary of giving an official stamp of approval with such limited info. But some of the other “best” categories could work.

      1. Snow Drift*

        You could allow write-in categories and choose your personal favorites, if the legwork for a “best of” is too onerous. People here get quite creative. :)

      2. MuseumChick*

        This would to long of a title but it could be something like “Best Management Response to a Terrible Situation” that way, it’s focused on that one specific instance in the letter.

        1. Recent Anon Lurker*

          I would like to second the “Best Management Response” suggestion. I agree that it would keep things specific enough to what we know from the letters only.

        2. Esme Squalor*

          +1 This would be a great approach and by refocusing the accolades on the “best response” rather than the “best manager,” that wouldn’t necessarily endorse all management behavior outside the scope/context of that one situation.

      3. just my opinion*

        You could do “best update”… might have the added bonus of getting more people to send updates!

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Conversely, many bad bosses do get one or two things right. Sometimes that is how they keep their power because of those one or two things they do correctly.
        I had a toxic boss who did transgressions numbers 1 through 24. However, when the chips were down we could talk and Boss could have good ideas once in a while. Oddly, I missed that. I had a few bosses who could not do that, talk through tough situations. Now I have a boss who will chat about any topic. This means I don’t miss the talks with Toxic Boss any more.

        The bad bosses we see here often do something so wrong they should be fired based on that ONE transgression. However, just because a boss is good about ONE thing does not mean they should be promoted. It’s an apples to oranges comparison, really. I do think real life examples of people doing/choosing good actions can be used as a teaching tool for all of us.

  20. MuseumChick*

    I think we need a March Madness Worst Boss of the Decade run off.

    I digress, I went with the employer who wouldn’t do anything about an employee who left push pins for people to sit on and sliced a chair with a knife. I mean, ALL these bosses are TERRIBLE but this one just struck a cord with me.

    1. Liane*

      This. I need to mull, maybe until Wednesday.
      Spy-boss and $2 Boss are out of their league, although I wouldn’t want to work for them.
      The others are much harder to decide among.

  21. Recent Anon Lurker*

    I ultimately went with eenie meenie miny moe between didn’t call an ambulance and boss who wouldn’t protect their employees from push pin lady. I thought those both had the worst possible outcomes for the involved employees/OP’s.

    1. Thanks For Nothing*

      I too had to do eenie meenie miny moe. So many awful bosses.

      But I also second someone above recognizing greatness as well. There have been some outstanding, wonderful bosses and work situations this year as well. The LW needing a kidney donation whose boss initially came off creepy but ended up helping out in all the best possible ways comes to mind.

  22. Lady Phoenix*

    Too many awful bosses. I definitely put my vote to the dumb@sses that refused to fire annemployee who place push pins in OP’s chair and used a knife to slice into a manager’s chair, for the simple reason that they refused to fore her on the threat of “being sued”.

    Cause one false lawsuit is apparently worse than at least 2 legitimate lawsuits. Effin morons.

    1. Positive Reframer*

      Interestingly fear of blowback was a factor in the no ambulance and the push pins. Something about choosing not to protect people you are supposed to because you aren’t willing to deal with the hassle is the opposite of what being a good boss is really about. Leadership is about taking responsibility and these people take CYA to a dangerous level.

  23. Temperance*

    For me, the worst was easily the boss who kept ignoring the fact that one of the employees was terrorizing the rest of the staff and threatening them.

  24. Iced Cappuccino*

    I voted for the principal who wouldn’t call an ambulance even though I think the CPS or couples therapy bosses had more evil/unthinkable factor. Maybe the principal is otherwise good at their job but as someone put it on the original thread, it shows a lack of judgement in dealing with emergencies. For a school principal, it really screams “this person should NOT have this job” on top of being unethical.

    1. Recent Anon Lurker*

      As a former teacher I couldn’t agree more. How you as a leader respond to an emergency with staff is critical in determining how you will react when a student has an emergency assistance required injury.

      1. it's me*

        Yes. Makes me wonder what else he’d be willing to cover up in order to not make the school “look bad.”

    2. moosetracks*

      I’m also a teacher and this was my logic too, that someone who would place “optics” over safety is really the worst kind of educator, who shouldn’t be responsible for children (or adults!) ever. That letter also made me yell the most, which was basically why I chose it.

  25. OlympiasEpiriot*

    They are all horrible and I think this should have been by Australian balloting. That said, I voted for the principal who refused to call an ambulance right away. That’s a matter of life or death, from the description of the victim’s symptoms. Just because all she ended up with was headaches doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been worse.

    I’ve had a couple of concussions in my life and have some first responder skills. This was NOT the way to handle the situation.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I went with the principal who refused to allow anyone to call an ambulance as well. That said, I also do fault anyone who had a working mobile phone, who obeyed that instruction. Someone could have made that call without the principal even knowing about it.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Oh I agree. But, I suspect that this principal must have already been an illogical petty tyrant and probably gaslit people all over the place. I’ll bet lots of others just froze in the moment and then went along. I mean, someone who has actual emergency responder training (in my case for industrial accidents and wilderness emergency — which requires a high degree of independence) has already went through lots of scenario training and would have without hesitation done that and told the principal where to get off if questioned by her. But, I’ve seen people freeze even in training — when it is completely low-stakes. Have seen people freeze worse when it’s a real situation, especially the untrained.

        I got issues with the Am Red Cross for financial management, but the community first aid classes that used to be far more common are a great thing, including for giving average people a bit more of a sense of autonomy with this kind of situation.

      1. Brisvegan*

        *waves from Down Under*

        We call it preferential voting, but I am assuming that’s what the poster meant.

        In most Australian elections, we number all candidates from most to least preferred. This means if you have 5 candidates for a seat, you number the ballot from 1-5 next to the candidate’s names. (Most races would have at minimum an LNP and Labour candidate, but also usually a Greens and/or far right party (there are several) candidate, plus maybe a few independents, so 3-7 candidates is pretty normal, plus over 20 psrties, each with multiple people for the Commonwealth Senate candidates for each state!)

        If the candidate with the most ‘1’ votes does not have a simple, unbeatable majority of the votes (more than all other candidates combined) then you go to a second stage of counting.

        In the second stage, called ‘allocating preferences’ you look at all the ballots for the person with the least ‘1’ votes (call them ‘loser candidate’) You take all of loser candidates’ votes snd give them to the people listed at ‘2’ on loser candidates’ ballot papers.

        If that does not give an unbeatable majority to a front runner, then you repeat the preference allocation with the votes for the candidate with the 2nd less votes, then 3rd less and so on, until there are only 2 candidates left or one candidate has a majority which could not be defeated by preferences.

        Effectively, it means each voter gets not only a vote, but also can select ‘backups’ in case their preferred candidate is in a hopeless position.

        Thus if you vote for a small party knowing they may not be popular, you can give a preference to another party or independent candidate.

        In the political space, it lets you choose eg a progressive independent, with a progressive major party candidate as second choice (or conservative, then other conservative etc). It ameliorates the issue of split votes and allows minor party, conscience or protest votes to not be ‘wasted’ in the same way they might be in the USA. It weakens the hold of our two major parties, giving some seats to minor parties and lets people nudge the major parties with first preference votes for other positions. We also have compulsory voting, so some people don’t register distaste for major parties by not voting and would instead vote independent or minor party for first preference.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Thank you for explaining as I only just checked in an saw this.

          I am very fond of your system.

          1. Brisvegan*

            No worries! (Aussie phrase for you.)

            I like our system too! I was a bit shocked when younger me found out that it was not used widely around the world.

            I also like the Tasmanian State system, the Hare-Clark system , which is a combination of proportional representation and preference voting. The idea of a proportional representation seems to fairly represent all interests.

            (Yes, I am a nerd who overthinks this stuff!)

        1. Recent Anon Lurker*

          I want to say Maine just instituted something very similar that they call “ranked choice” voting.

    1. WellRed*

      I voted for this one too, because I guess it felt like…taking advantage of lower-paid workers, among other ridiculousness. Not to mention, there may be cases where it’s illegal.
      The therapy boss, well, some people never learn boundaries, including the letter writer’s parents. Not that I excuse her or any of these others.

  26. BlueWolf*

    It was a very difficult decision. These are all terrible, but I think I have to go with the ambulance one because how do you just not call an ambulance for a bleeding head injury?

  27. Anon Accountant*

    I went for the push pins and sliced chair because that employee sounded troubling and the significant potential danger to other employees. That boss who wouldn’t do anything was bad. My runners up we’re the boss who pretended to be from CPS and the boss refusing to call an ambulance for an injured employee.

      1. Recent Anon Lurker*

        Me three. With tales of workplace violence this one ( pushpin lady) just had DANGER written all over it.

  28. Everdene*

    Wow that was tough! Each one I read was worse than the last. Although it’s not the one I chose in the end I feel a particular affinity with the $2 fine one – I quit a job the day a manager had a go at me for being 7 minutes late (I wasn’t) while actively ignoring that I had been early/stayed late every day that week.

  29. dramalama*

    It’s really a philosophical decision: is a boss who actively makes your life miserable worse than a boss who passively allows your workplace to go to hell?

  30. boo bot*

    I had to go with “actively prevents emergency medical treatment” boss. Oddly, it was probably the least bizarre of the bunch, but the woman had a head injury – life and death wins out.

    If I were picking second place, I think I would go with the $2/minute boss – it’s so terrible, but it’s also not “pretended to be CPS”-level shocking. It seems unreasonable but almost plausible, and so I can see her just going on and on for years, draining little bits of cash at a time from employees who can’t afford to lose it (and, I believe, pocketing it herself). Skimming cash off the bottom – so classy.

    That might just be a personal tic, but I’d rather deal with obvious dysfunction than plausible deniability any day – with the first one, I can at least be sure of my own sanity. (For a while… even obvious dysfunction gains a certain deniability if it goes on long enough.)

  31. Rebecca*

    I feel very disheartened by all of this. It’s got to be the tip of the iceberg – I just fear for every story we read about here, there are 10 more just like it that no one hears about.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Oh yeah. I’ve been employed by them. I was once asked to “dance sexy” holding our products at the mall (worked for a high-end body shop) and that was one of my better bad experiences.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      Agreed!! It’s scary there are so many bad bosses out there. Not the “not fabulous” but truly awful bosses. Ugh

    3. Kes*

      I mean, I think these stand out because they are so much worse than you would expect. There are bad bosses, but you don’t necessarily see them this bad or in these weird and awful ways.

      Also, keep in mind that there are corresponding good (and great) bosses, you just aren’t likely to hear about them much on AAM because people write in for help with resolving problems.

  32. ZSD*

    Oh, gods, this was so hard. And I think it’s telling that there are enough horrible people out there that a boss who reads emails and puts up cameras is considered comparatively palatable.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, that was the only one on the list I didn’t have to think about in order to figure out my vote. It was like “Nah, that’s just garden-variety annoying behavior”.


  33. kittymommy*

    I nixed the camera boss off pretty quick and while the $2 boss can be horribly financially impacting, especially with low wage earners, it’s not quite in the same category as the others. I mean, dang, the ambulance boss easily could have aided in killing that employee (this is what ultimately did it for me). As well as the push pin boss. -The chick is slicing property up with a knife!! How is no one in upper management freaking out??

    From a pure popcorn and wine perspective, boss dating dad is gold!

  34. CatCat*

    There’s a lot of epic boss failing going on here, but I have to go with the “no calling an ambulance boss.” That’s life or death! So that wins out for me over all the other awful.

    1. Temperance*

      That was a stupid thing to do, but CPS boss lost her job over her stupidity, IIRC. It had no lasting damage. The boss allowing the deranged coworker to stab chairs as a threat is the worst to me, because it very well could end in workplace violence.

      1. Recent Anon Lurker*

        That was the reason (CPS prank getting her canned) that prank didn’t make my eenie meenie. I ultimately did vote for the dangerous co-worker, because I bet all those employees spent at least some time every day wondering what crazy/destructive/dangerous thing was going to happen in the office today.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          And worrying how far she’d go. If you angered her would she wait for you in the parking lot? Damage your car? Follow you home and damage your home?

          I feel bad because she sounds unwell and in need of serious help but I feel bad for the poor employees who were terrified.

          1. Becca*

            Yes, I really really hope she can get help and go on to live a good, healthy life. But in the meantime I hope that those she’s hurting can stay as safe as possible.

  35. Erin*

    I went with the employee whose boss was dating her dad and wanted them to go to couple’s therapy.

    It was a toss up for me between that, the fining for being late, and the not calling an ambulance.

    Medical stuff automatically goes higher on the list for me, but ultimately I decided the ambulance one could be chalked up to horrible judgement for a one-time thing. The fining for being late enrages me, but when it comes down to it, doesn’t horrifically affect the person’s life in the way that the others do.

    But the therapy one. It wasn’t just the therapy, or a one-off bad decision, or a bad policy. That woman is effing psychotic and deserves to be the worst boss of the year.

    1. London Engineer*

      It was the long-term nature of that one that did it for me – the long term toll which it had taken on the OP was so awful

      1. EnfysNest*

        I was just so sad for that OP, who was worried that she was in the wrong and acting too much like a “Millenial” (which is infuriating on so many levels – the gaslighting from both the boss and society as a whole is just awful). She just sounded so defeated and unsure of herself and her own worth. :(

      2. SwingingAxeWolfie*

        Took the words out of my mouth! I felt so wrapped up in the OP’s turmoil that this one eventually won for me.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Yep, that’s where I landed too. The consequences of that one to the LW’s mental health were mind boggling.

    3. The Original K.*

      I’m trying to decide among those three as well. It’s hard – they’re all so terrible! I’m leaning toward Couple’s Therapy Boss.

    4. media monkey*

      agree. and it affected her work life and her home/ family life as well, which Jill knew and didn’t care. the worst by far!

  36. LBF*

    I had to go with CPS boss. My mom once had a bitter ex-coworker who made a false allegation to CPS and my brother was taken into foster care for 24 hours. It was one of the most traumatic things ever experienced and it’s just NOT FUNNY, CPS boss. Not funny at all.

    … But they all super duper suck, man. Jeeze.

  37. Grey*

    My write in vote is for the employer who forced 4 workers to honor their resignations after their boss mistakenly told them layoffs were coming.

    1. boo bot*

      Yeah, that was horrible – and the boss herself, who didn’t just accidentally get the info wrong, but insisted, over and over, that Layoffs are Coming.

    2. Arctic*

      The letter was from 2017. It’s just the update that was recent. IMO 2017 was a much more competitive year for worst boss.

  38. Akcipitrokulo*

    Ooooh so hard!!! I can’t believe that (for me) the pins on chair boss comes out as not as bad!

    CPS was SOOOO bad… the ridiculous and probably illegal $2/minute numpty…

    But I think refusing to call an ambulance just squeaks into the lead… oooh, it’s hard though!

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      On second thoughts….

      Ambulance was horrific but was arguably a nasty, selfish panic reaction from a horrible person.

      CPS was horrific and a nasty, selfish premeditated piece of evil from a horrible person.

      So…. I’m now leaning towards CPS…

      And wishing I could choose between the brown and grey hats!

  39. Goya de la Mancha*

    All of these and more! This has been the year of *hold my beer* for bosses it seems.

    Ultimately, CPS pretender won it for me though.

  40. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

    For me this is like a 5-way tie, with Big Brother boss coming in at #2. If I had to get more granular, I think Non-Ambulance-Calling boss edges out Ignoring Unbalanced Employee’s Threatening Vandalism boss. Both seem pretty dangerous, but man, you don’t mess around with head injury!

    These make me sooo grateful that my boss is awesome and my workplace is definitely not any more dysfunctional than most. Stupid kitchen cleaning-related microaggressions are about as bad as we wanna be.

  41. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

    There are a LOT of contenders, but as someone who works in family defense and has seen what CPS can do people’s lives, that one nudges ahead of push pin boss for me.

  42. Lady Phoenix*

    I didn’t vote the CPS one because… well… the b1tch got her karma. She lost her job is no longer a manager for that conpany.

    These other bosses, however, are in need of swift justice.

    1. Esme Squalor*

      That is an interesting factor to use to weigh the choices. It does seem to make the initial offense worse if the bad boss received no consequences for it, doesn’t it?

      1. Zombeyonce*

        For me, those feel worse because the bad boss probably didn’t learn from the situation if they never had to deal with any consequences.

        1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          For me those feel worse too, because they suggest someone is either ignoring or enabling the bad boss.

    1. Esme Squalor*

      I totally get the rule about not including managers who write in, but can you imagine how validated that poor birthday-denied woman would feel if she stumbled across her own boss named Worst Boss of 2018 on a popular blog because of her awful situation?

  43. AnonyMouse*

    They were all so bad this year, it was near impossible to choose. I went with the couples therapy one, just because of the ones on this list that one was the only one I didn’t need to go back and re-read. I immediately remembered how insanely toxic that one was (if I remember properly, the OP left. Kudos to them!). But IMO, they’re all horrible and shouldn’t be responsible for managing people.

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I think there’s a rule against nominating people who write in, since it might discourage people from writing in.

  44. Akgal*

    I voted for the boss who impersonated cps. I have a disability and I live in fear of cps. When I was investigated by cps it was all about my race and my disability. She kept asking why I didn’t try to get my disability fixed. Umm, the brain don’t grow back. The area controlling my left side motorskills is gone. It saved my life so I don’t complain About it.

    That is why the letter about the guy who pretends to be disabled upset me so much. Cps already believes that people who have disabilities can just get over them by trying people who fake disabilities just make that perception worse.

  45. DCGirl*

    After reading about Natasha Richardson and what can happen when a head injury doesn’t get prompt attention, I voted for the boss who refused to call an ambulance for the employee who fell and hit her head. I mean, they’re all bad but, in that case, someone could have died.

  46. Coder von Frankenstein*

    I voted for no-ambulance boss due to potential consequences. But couples-therapy boss is without a doubt the most WTF of the lot.

  47. Yikes*

    This was REALLY hard. I ultimately went with the boss who refused to call an ambulance, because that woman could have died or suffered permanent brain damage. But seriously, what a terrible cast of candidates that “potential death” was the grain of sand that tipped the scales. Any of these people would be a nightmare to work under.

  48. Jaybeetee*

    Geez, how to choose? I wound up going with $2/minute boss myself, which I know is a bit of a dark horse (though I think it was second place when I checked?) Amidst all these other egregiously terrible bosses, that one was just so… petty, and for some reason it just makes me even more ragey than the others. Maybe it just seemed like so overtly taking advantage of younger/less experienced workers who are least able to financially absorb those shenanigans. Maybe it reminds me a bit more of some terrible bosses I had when just starting out (though I never was charged money for being late!) Kinda like we can all agree that Hitler is evil, but when you see your neighbour kicking a puppy? THAT’S ragey.

    (Also, perhaps that’s the emotional mechanism that has people so outraged over Leap Year Birthday Boss, who is ineligible for this poll – the rest are heinous, but pettiness just hits different emotional buttons).

    1. Bostonian*

      Yeah, for some reason $2 boss just gets me so mad. I think it’s the pure lack of logic involved. They’re not paying their employees $2/minute, so why is that the charge for being late? And it doesn’t work the other way (stay late and get $2/minute). And aren’t they already not getting paid for that time if their late (hourly)? And the fact that it’s cash is SKETCHY AS HELL.

      Most of the other bosses at least had their own (albeit messed up) reason for doing what they did. The $2/minute rule just doesn’t make sense, it’s a pure scam.

  49. Sandy*

    That was hard. Ugh, they’re all horrid. BUT, I voted for the one who ignored the threatening behavior. Just a clear pattern of repeatedly ignoring terrible behavior. The rest are very, very bad and I feel like I am splitting WTF hairs, but sometimes people make bad decisions in the moment that they deeply regret later. This was over and over; repeatedly turning their back on their basic managerial responsibilities.

  50. BeanCat*

    I know that 2018 has been long because I swore for a moment that half of these were from previous years.

    Hard calls all around, too.

  51. Bazinga*

    I was torn between Ambulance Boss and Ignoring Crazy Pushpin Coworker Boss and ended up picking Pushpin because that was a long dream out wtf whereas the Ambulance was an hour of wtf. It was a tough choice. Then CPS boss is a close third.

  52. Ilikeyoualatte*

    What about the boss that won’t let the poor girl celebrate her birthday like her coworkers because she dare be be born on leap year?

    1. Zombeyonce*

      Alison doesn’t put LWs in the Worst Boss contest since it might deter people from writing in about problems when they’re the boss.

  53. Zombeyonce*

    I want someone to design some sort of WORST BOSS OF 20__ badge to be stuck on all the original articles and maybe some WORST BOSS RUNNER UP badges for the remaining ones, too.

    Alison? :D

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Maybe a headshot of Bill Lumbergh from “Office Space?” Though I’m not sure if that would be covered under Fair Use.

  54. Pebbles*

    Holy sh!t it’s been a bad year. That’s….really all my mind can come up with right now. Do you vote for one of the physical abusers or one of the emotional abusers, because they’re all so g-d awful.

  55. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

    It is a REALLY close tie between the one who wouldn’t call the ambulance and the one who pretended to be CPS. I honestly just can’t decide.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      Those were my top two as well. Ultimately I decided that I blame the nurse in the ambulance story more then the principal. She had medical training and knew what was at stake. CPS….just burns my butt! You maliciously “prank” someone like that (which guaranteed took advanced planning) and then you had the balls to write them up when they complained to a friend/co-worker?!?

  56. Britt*

    My vote is for the one pretending to be CPS. You don’t ever mess with someone’s livelihood in regards to custody of children unless they are truly in danger. It’s absolutely psychotic.

  57. animaniactoo*

    Every time I thought I had it, I didn’t have it.

    I ruled out Couples Therapy because that was insane, but also – it was partly family dynamics that was driving that as opposed to just a weird and amazingly bad boss. Yeah, it was bad and mindblowing, but if you squint at it, you can see and understand the factors that got it to that point. Jill would have been utterly horrible but in a predictable abusive egotistical boss way and not nearly as bad if it wasn’t for OP’s dad being in the mix.

    Fined people $2.00 a minute… that sucked but was minor comparatively and possible to manage most of the time. Wrong, outrageous, but able to work around. Inconvenient and sucky but not a day to day utter misery problem.

    Surveillance guy – I would be creeped out working there. I would not want to work there. But people manage to figure out working under such conditions.

    I ruled out CPS boss ONLY because it was clear that there was recourse – the manager was awful, but the company made it right and it’s clear that there was recourse if Wendy had pursued it. Otherwise, this was one that I “had” for a moment.

    So now I’m down to the PushPins and the ambulance. In the end, while the ambulance post was a stunning lack of judgment in the moment and could have had horrific consequences… it was a moment, and there was the possibility of correction going forward. Wobbled back and forth between this and the pushpins for awhile.

    But the pushpins? There was a LOT of refusal to manage along several levels in that company. So… I ended up with the PushPins which showed an ongoing lack of concern for employee safety and wellbeing and most likely to have continued suckiness going forward even if the problem employee is now gone.

    1. Recent Anon Lurker*

      The fact it went on for as long as it did with pushpin was just scary. The constant what is going to happen today…….

  58. Elise*

    These are all sooo terrible, but I honestly can’t get past the cruelty of pretending to be CPS and then blaming the employee for mentioning it to someone else. A call from CPS would be a parent’s worst nightmare.

  59. Noah*

    The child protective services boss may or may not be the worst boss, that that story is the worst single thing any boss did this year. You don’t F with people’s kids.

  60. Comms Girl*

    Not even a contest for me this year – mind you, they are all horrible, horrible people, but the couple’s therapy boss and the whole story really pushed all my buttons. I was so glad to hear the amazing update!

  61. Autumnheart*

    They’re all so terrible! In the end, I went with Pushpins and Knives because with CPS, $2 and Jill, no lives were actually in danger, even though all those people are absolutely horrible and should have to wear a scarlet H on their clothes to warn others. With Ambulance and Pushpins, lives really *were* in danger. But as others noted, Ambulance could have been a one-off bad decision by someone who momentarily had their head up their butt. But to stand by and watch an employee repeatedly attack and threaten coworkers and refuse to do anything AT ALL, that’s an epic level of abrogating one’s responsibility. It was literally their job to handle it, and they wouldn’t.

    But really, they’re all horrible and if this were the Oscars, they’d all win for their respective categories.

  62. This Daydreamer*

    I had to go with Jill. Rereading that original letter still makes me curl up in a ball of horror.

  63. periwinkle*

    Hey Alison, could we have a Worst Boss runoff?

    This year’s candidates were pretty darned awful, but TBH I don’t think they compare to some of the mind-bogglingly awful winners and runners-up from previous years.

    2016 was peak Worst – the boss who interrupted his employee’s chemotherapy sessions barely beat out the one who threatened to fire anyone who didn’t sign up to be a liver donor for his brother.

    1. anon24*

      Yup. It’s because I use a browser that locks down this stuff for safety. I switched to Chrome to vote.

  64. NW Mossy*

    I voted for Jill, on the grounds that she has failed as a manager comprehensively across a range of dimensions. The others could more easily (for me, at least) fall into “might be OK but for this one massive blind spot,” but Jill is just an ongoing car crash of bad managerial decisions:

    * She hires the daughter of someone she’s dating
    * She doesn’t even nod at work-life balance
    * She misrepresents her work to others (the ghostwriting)
    * She treats employees unprofessionally and gives poor feedback
    * She expects employees to provide her with child care without payment
    * She brings an employee’s family member into their performance management
    * She thinks shared therapy with an employee is appropriate
    * She has drawn the OP’s dad into her vortex of boundary violation and poor decisions

    Based on the OP’s letters, I wouldn’t trust Jill to manage a cactus, much less a human being.

  65. EPLawyer*

    This was really tough. I thought therapy boss was the worst because of the whole tsunami of suck that was that situation. Overworked, berated, then having to deal with boss in the personal life because dad was dating her. And dad siding with girlfriend. but that was just banana crackers.

    The not calling an ambulance thing was bad. But one off bad. I finally went with the Fatal Attraction co-worker. Because that was an ongoing dangerous situation that no one with the authority to do so would address. Basically if you don’t do the basics of protecting your employees from harm — You. Are. The. Worst.

  66. Highlighter*

    This was tough but I eventually chose family therapy boss just because of the sheer amount of gaslighting the OP had to deal with. CPS and ambulance were tied just a sliver below for second.

  67. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Tough choice this year – everyone on the list deserves to be on it because they suck at being a boss, and at being a rational human being.

    Still, the Fake CPS boss got my vote. Scaring the hell out of a parent for no other reason than your own amusement is beyond vile. There is no greater bond than one between parent and child, and you simply do not mess with a parent like that for giggles.

  68. mr. brightside*

    This was hard but I have to go with CPS. My second choice to the boss fining an employee for more money than that employee makes.

  69. Harper the Other One*

    I literally cannot decide at this point. I am going to have to think on it. So many awful choices…

    1. RunnerGirl*

      Maybe try a different browser. The poll wouldn’t show for me in Firefox, but was visible/useable in Internet Explorer.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Scroll waaaay up to the top, there is a box on the left of the screen captioned “worse boss of the year 2108”. At the bottom of the box after you read the choices, you will see a button labeled “vote”. Click the vote button.

  70. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    Tough choosing, but I had to vote for no-ambulance boss because there was an actual bloody personal injury and it was massive failure on multiple levels in denying this person immediate medical attention. My runner-up would be knife-slashed chair/thumbtacks boss, because there was concrete evidence of violent behavior and no attempt to address it.

    Some of these bosses showed awful judgement and horrible interpersonal and/or managerial skills, but the elements of personal injury and violent acts in the two mentioned above take bad management to an unacceptable level.

  71. ThomasT*

    Consider this my write-in for 2-29-birthday-is-only-one-every-four-years boss!
    I went with therapy boss from the available choices. The no-ambulance boss made a very bad decision in a stressful situation, but there wasn’t evidence in the letter of *on-going* malfeasance. CPS boss was also, from the letter, a one-timer (and got her come-uppance in the end). I also gave strong consideration to the wage-theft-for-lateness boss, because it was institutionalized in the organization. Very tight call bewteen that, but went with the utter dishonesty and abusiveness of therapy boss.

  72. Jennifer85*

    Plenty of them are clearly batshit but at least most of them the boss could have plausibly being trying (oh, so, misguidedly) to act in the businesses interests). CPS boss? Pure evil, no excuses.

  73. Typhon Worker Bee*

    the employer who wouldn’t do anything about an employee who left push pins for people to sit on and sliced a chair with a knife – MOST INCOMPETENT BOSS
    the boss who called an employee and pretended to be from Child Protective Services – CRUELEST BOSS
    the boss who reads all your emails and put cameras in your office – CREEPIEST BOSS
    the boss who refused to call an ambulance for an injured employee – MOST DANGEROUS BOSS
    the employer who fined people $2 a minute for being late – PETTIEST BOSS
    the boss who was dating the employee’s dad and wanted them to all go to couples therapy together – MOST F*%&ED UP BOSS

    WORST BOSS – for me it’s between CPS and head injury, but I went with the latter because that kind of thinking can literally kill someone. CPS boss was more pre-meditated, but at least no-one had to wander around bleeding and dazed because of “optics”

  74. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I think $2/minute boss is worst because of the effect it could cause- someone rushing to work would be a lot more likely to cause a car accident or other tragedy.

    With how much an ambulance costs, I can’t fault the boss who didn’t call, that much. Of course, she didn’t because she was focused on appearance but still.

    My personal “worst boss” of the year was a supervisor who upbraided me for taking a few minutes each hour to walk/stretch. Maybe I wasn’t having my best day, but YOU GO OUT AND SMOKE THOSE CANCER STICKS AND YOU YELL AT ME FOR DOING THE HEALTHY THING?

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Lawd, I hate those type of people….I used to consider taking up “pretend” smoking just so I could go outside for a break like my smoker coworkers did.

  75. Not So NewReader*

    I had to go with the no ambulance boss.
    How could someone be so dense to deny help to an injured person, and a head injury no less.
    But the thing that swayed me is the boss made the decision based on concern about appearances.

    I have met this type of boss. This is not a one-off. This is an on-going method of decision making, how will it appear to others. I would bet that this boss is still making decisions based on this method. This is a very insecure individual who probably can’t lead goldfish, never mind people.
    Since I believe that this boss makes decisions based on appearances AND made a life and death decision based on appearances, I believe that this leader is a danger to themselves and those around them.

    “No, don’t call the fire company for that blaze over there. What will people think if we call the fire company?”
    “No, don’t call the police for that random shooter. What will people think if we call the police?”
    This boss needs to be put far away from people.

  76. Bowserkitty*

    This was so ridiculously hard to choose. I voted for the boss who pretended to be from CPS but now I want to change it to the ambulance one!! That one could have been life or death…

  77. HidingForThisOne*

    I am not actually sure if it is saying something about me, or how my current job has completely warped me, but I read the list and thought “Kinda boring, really. Where is the organ-snatcher? Where is the chemo boss? Where is the wedding (or grave) crashing boss?”

    I went with No Ambulance Boss.

    And I need to find a new job stat.

    1. kc89*

      I had a hard time choosing but yeah I also went with no ambulance boss

      the entry at #1 right now would probably have been my last choice tbh

  78. Relly*

    Alison, out of curiosity, would you be willing to tell us which one you voted for, and why?

    I have logical explanations for my pick, and reading others’ explanations is really intriguing, but what’s funny is that I’m pretty sure I went with the one that just point-blank upset me the most (couples’ therapy).

  79. AnontherAnonoLurkerFinallyPosting*

    While all these bosses are awful, I had to vote for the one who is consistently and across-the-board evil: Jill. Truly, a boss from hell.

    Not calling for an ambulance for a serious head trauma is egregious behavior, as is charging people for being late to work … So here’s to a rousing round of “WTF?!” to both those runner-ups. And a boss who won’t do anything about a deranged coworker weaponizing office supplies is clearly incompetent, so a loud raspberry and black star to that fool.

    Jill, however, is over-the-top incompetent, mendacious, malicious, and absolutely committed to making other people’s lives miserable. All for no reason at all, except that she can and wants to. There’s no topping that … At least, I sincerely hope not.

  80. Mimmy*

    I ended up going with the boss who wouldn’t deal with the push-pin guy, but was also considering the boss who pretended to be CPS and the boss who refused to call an ambulance for injured employee. Tough choice this year!

  81. voyager1*

    I am not psychologist but I need to say something.

    Honestly all these stories really belong in a pyschology textbook as wonderful examples of psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic behaviors.

    I personally voted for CPS boss, but honestly all these deserve to win. I think who you voted for probably has more to do with which story was the most relatable to your own experiences. I do find it interesting how people are perceiving the potiental for harm.

    1. MoopySwarpet*

      I think for me the final tipping point was that the CPS call was intentionally malicious behavior. The not calling an ambulance was reactionary bad judgement (and there were others involved who didn’t call), the therapy was horrible bad boundaries, the pushpins was terrifying inaction, the fining is horrible policy following, and the general surveillance was bizarre.

  82. Harvey P. Carr*

    Since many people are commenting on how tough it is to make one single choice, is it possible to change the voting format? Probably too late for this year, but maybe for next year.

    Instead of just voting for one, have everyone rank the entries, 1-6. #1 ranking gets 6 points, #2 ranking gets 5 points, and so forth. The one that gets the most points is declared the Worst Boss of the Year.

    What do you think?

  83. AthenaC*

    For me, the boss who refused to call an ambulance squeaks past the others, just because of the potential physical long-term consequences to that poor teacher. I would put the CPS boss at a close second, because that would terrify me.

    But I don’t begrudge anyone for voting for any of the others, though!

  84. Beth Anne*

    This is so hard! They are all bad. But I’m going with everyone else and the ambulance one because they put someones life in danger. Had it been a really bad fall the teacher could have DIED! Honestly if I was that teacher if you don’t have a union I’d have called the superintendent and make a complaint.

  85. BossHater*

    OMG, it’s got to be the Leap Year Birthday boss! Especially since they were so unrepentant about skipping the employee’s birthday every year when we heard the follow-up. GRRR!

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