update: my boss makes me sign personal contracts for every rule he implements

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! All this week and next, I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the boss making employees sign personal contracts for every rule he implemented? Here’s the update.

First off, thanks to everyone for chiming in and all the advice, I cant remember if I was able to respond on the day of, but me and my partner read through them that night. About a week after I wrote to you and after the letter was published, my bf got another “contract” to sign. This one was “I will not work overtime” … despite being asked to work overtime every week and it appearing on his schedule. When he asked for clarification before signing the contract, his boss (Sam) said he wasn’t allowed to work overtime and he highly insinuated that he should be working off the clock to stay under 40 hours. My bf took the contract and said he needed to seek clarification with HR, as it sounded like he was supposed to work for free. His boss immediately backtracked and tried to take the paper back, which my bf did not let him. He went to HR, told them this was one of many, and he asked HR if working off the clock was their new policy, they of course were horrified and said no.

Some important context before I finish the update: He had started looking for a new job at the beginning of April and he got a lead and had a few interviews with a new company around mid-April. Before he started looking for a new job (sometime in March), he had asked to be moved to a new position in a different department that he was qualified for and open. This new position would have been a promotion and we desperately needed it due to our rent shooting up (ugh). He met with the new manager of that department, and they hit it off. His GM and this new manager highly insinuated this job was his, with the new manager even commenting on his low salary in his current department and ensuring he would be getting a raise. They were just waiting for Sam to find his replacement before he could leave that position. Well, Sam decided that it was my bf’s responsibility to find his replacement (as if finding someone to work in a $12 an hour job with this boss would be easy!) and he blocked the transfer/promotion for weeks while the GM did nothing. After many attempts to push this along and get into that other position, the GM got tired of him asking and finally told him that he didn’t get the job. They had decided to hire the receptionist at their sister store, with no experience, instead. Well, that was that! He took a sick day the next day to interview with the new company and they were running a background check and doing his drug test that weekend. He was officially hired at the new company 5 days after the old company told him they hired someone else for the internal position.

He came in the Monday after being told he wouldn’t get the job and gave a week’s notice (we needed the significant overtime the new job was offering and decided that burning that bridge wouldn’t matter). He gave notice directly to his boss and HR. The GM called him within an hour and begged for him to stay, offering a $3 raise and bf declined. He said he would need a $15 dollar raise to continue working for Sam as he was an asshole, terrible at his job, and everyone hated him. GM finally decided to be the GM and put Sam on temporary leave that day, and he wasn’t there during my bfs last week.

My bf leaving and directly stating Sam as the reason for his departure set off an avalanche at their location. This was not the first time people had complained about Sam. 8 months ago there was a mechanic strike because Sam was mistreating them (which is a whole other letter). 3 other guys that worked with my bf quit when they found out my bf was leaving, and 4 mechanics put in their 1 week notice as well. In 5 days this company lost almost 45% of its service department (which for those of you that don’t know, that’s where they get most of their revenue, not sales), and they ALL said Sam was the reason. All of those people ended up being wooed back, most of them taking significant raises (my bf’s best friend is a mechanic there and he got a $10 raise, we think that went across the board for mechanics). I encouraged my bf to let the guys he directly worked with know that they had offered him a $3 raise, after already making more than the rest of them. None of them came back unless the company matched what my bf was offered, and they all got that raise.

Unfortunately , Sam still has a job there, no one knows how. However he is no longer a tyrannical idiot, HR put a leash on him.

My bf has been in this new position for about a month. While there are definitely some negatives, he is mostly enjoying the new work. He is no longer in the luxury car sector, and he misses that, but where he is now is a much safer bet going into a recession, he’s likely to keep his job, that most likely wouldn’t have happened at the old company. The overtime isn’t quite what they made it out to be, so we both silently stress we won’t be able to make rent but we always find a way, so we are choosing to be satisfied for now.

The new person they hired lasted less than a month. I still can’t understand why they hired her, she has NO experience in that department and that department works directly with service, so she absolutely needed experience in order to be able to recommend parts/services to clients. In fact, in order for my bf to even get in that position he had to go through a training program before he was even eligible. Honestly, all of this has made it abundantly obvious that aside from Sam being useless, the GM was just as useless and we are happy to move on from it all.

{ 83 comments… read them below }

    1. TrippingOnBY*

      Literally was going to write that this was “delicious”! So satisfying and so glad LW and boyfriend are doing well.

    2. Koalafied*

      Whoooo, I haven’t had a good belly laugh in days like the one I got from Sam putting his work-without-pay order in writing.

  1. Falling Diphthong*

    I love the standard life advice encapsulated in this update. Like “Those with the power to change things often don’t want to expend the effort until something happens that negatively affects them. And then *poof* the stuff they could never do is suddenly very doable.”

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I love that line. I use it myself on occasion. Ironically and only with folks I’m close to, of course.

    1. OP*

      Exactly, my bf was almost convinced to go back at the higher rate but i reminded him that after almost 8 months of asking for a (much deserved) raise, the only reason he actually did something was after he left. He always had the money to do it, and he always had the power to step in, but they only stepped up when we had no choice but to leave.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I’m so glad you gave him that advice! It can be so tempting to fall for the raise and not remember that they could have offered it a long time ago without you having to put in your notice first.

  2. OhNoYouDidn't*

    Great update! I love a good “screw you” story to jerky bosses. Kudos to both of you for not putting up with their exploitive crap. :)

  3. Pony Puff*

    “My bf took the contract and said he needed to seek clarification with HR, as it sounded like he was supposed to work for free. His boss immediately backtracked and tried to take the paper back, which my bf did not let him. He went to HR, told them this was one of many, and he asked HR if working off the clock was their new policy, they of course were horrified and said no.”

    Haha I love this! What a boss move.

    1. OP*

      Gotta thank the AAM community for that! We ripped that right out of the comments section :)

    2. That One Person*

      I also enjoyed that power move! It’s probably also what they needed to prove to HR that he was creating weird little personal contracts that were breaking laws.

  4. Bee Eye Ill*

    I missed the original post but wanted to add that I used to work for a very weak manager who also used to make us sign little contracts like that. About half of us left over the past few years, with me being the first to go, and I now make more than him and don’t have to manage anyone. Sometimes having bad bosses like that is the kick you need to find something better.

    1. OP*

      Absolutely! So happy you left for bigger and better things. I am very hopeful for his future

  5. Paris Geller*

    Wow, this update was a rollercoaster! It’s too bad the GM does indeed also sound useless, but it’s great that your bf has a new job AND so many of his former coworkers got raises. This is such a great example of a good employee expending their workplace capital for good. Obviously it’s easier when you have options–like a job offer–but still, overall positive!

  6. INeedANap*


    It seems like promoting internally would solve this problem. What what what what.

    1. Rainy*

      Either the GM is shockingly incompetent (which seems obvious from both letters), or Sam knows where a big smelly body is buried and they can’t risk him leaving and telling someone.

      Could be both.

      1. H.C.*

        The latter is my first guess – or that Sam has really close connections with someone at the top of that corporate food chain.

      2. OP*

        The GM is indeed shockingly incompetant. Dude makes 6 figures and never has a clue what’s going on there.

        As for Sam, I met him once at a coworker get together he randomly showed up at. My immediate read on him was that he was a mediocre, middle aged, white dude skating by off the fact that he can kiss a mean ass. He is completely hands off until a customer loses their mind, in which he swoops in and usually, effectively calms them down.

        1. allathian*

          So, it sounds like he should have a manager title to have authority with customers, but not actually manage anyone… But yeah, being good at one part of your job shouldn’t be enough to compensate for directly making half the staff quit.

          Congrats to your bf for getting the new job. I hope he does well and gets a raise in his next evaluation.

  7. Be kind, rewind*

    Wow. I’m so glad to hear he got out, and major kudos to him for helping his former coworkers get better raises (for those who wanted to stay).

  8. AnonInCanada*

    The only way this story could have a happier ending is if Sam the Tyrant was tarred and feathered, then fired. What a wonderful story, and I’m glad your partner found a better job with better pay and way far away from Sam the Tyrant. Okay, maybe not so much a tyrant anymore since HR put a leash on him and his “contracts.”

    1. irene adler*

      Give it time.
      Sam the Tyrant will find other ways to abuse-in spite of being leashed in by HR.

      1. AnonInCanada*

        Maybe if they had management that actually managed, then this wouldn’t be a problem since Sam the Tyrant would be out trying to find another job. Sam must have some incriminating photos involving the CEO and some barn animals. I can’t think of another reason why Sam would still be there :-P

        1. irene adler*

          Maye he groveled real hard, vowed to change his ways (a la Scrooge) and they opted to give him another chance.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            Or the higher ups are just too averse to confrontation, and expect he’ll make a big deal about it. Maybe even get lawyers involved, or at least threaten to.

            Sam’s not the real problem there, the person (and it’s one person) who made the decision to not fire him is.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I suspect that Sam will remain changed for only as long as HR has the ability to keep riding herd on him. I suspect that the moment HR gets dragged away he’ll sneak back to his old ways and petty tyranny.

  9. Essun*

    Oh man, my dad managed parts, service and the body shop of a large car dealership (not luxury cars, but extremely busy) when I was a kid, and your comment about how that area is what makes the dealership money is SO TRUE. This is bringing it allllll back- the ineffectual GM, the “how can they possibly still have a job??” types, the dysfunction. My dad was widely lauded as a very good manager, but he struggled sometimes given his role. I did a little part time filing and reception work there while I was in college, so I got to see some it first hand.

    I’m so glad to read this update and best wishes for y’all as you navigate the rent issue.

    1. OP*

      Yeah alot of people think selling the cars is what does it but they do wayyyyy more in parts in service! This was his second dealership and while this one was much better than the first, that industry is kind of trash!

      1. AnonToday*

        Audi driver here–I can well believe they make more on repairing cars and selling parts than the profit per car. After all, people only buy a new car every few years (and they’re keeping them longer these days) but each of those cars will need scheduled maintenance during warranty and most folks do that at the dealership ($200/hr+ in my area) plus other repairs after warranty as parts wear out.

  10. I should really pick a name*

    I’m curious what putting Sam on temporary leave was supposed to accomplish.

    1. NeedRain47*

      If it was unpaid leave, that’s a punishment. Also might give HR a little time to decide if he’s fired or not.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Time to decide about firing makes sense. Punishment in the workplace seems weird to me. Firing is a business decision, pulling someone off of a project because they’re causing problems with it is a business decision. Coaching can improve the situation. I don’t see the point of punishment for punishment’s sake.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Also entirely possible that besides deciding whether to fire, they wanted to minimize any chance that Sam could clash with the LW’s bf during his last week. I suspect any concern about retaliation against one person has sailed after they had to give lots of raises to avoid losing 45% of that crew (!), but they might have been worried about it when the first guy gave his notice.

  11. irene adler*

    Be careful what you ask for when you task the outgoing employee with finding their own replacement.


    Enjoyed this update!

    1. redflagday701*

      It’s such a curious move. Even in cases like this, where the boss seems to have the leverage to demand it (because OP’s husband was hoping for an internal transfer), it can backfire easily, and then your employee is gone and you need to start the search for a new hire from scratch. And if a boss asked me to do it at a job I hated and I was leaving the company anyway, I would politely tell them to stuff it.

    2. Magenta Sky*

      The trick is, it’s never (ever) solely up to the employee to decide. They hunt for and find a likely (or obscenely unlikely, or whatever) candidate, and the boss rejects them, no matter how well qualified they are.

      In other words, it’s a dodge to avoid saying out lose “I’m *never* going to approve you transferring out.”

      1. OP*

        Bingo! He was never getting that promotion and they knew that from day one. They thought raising his pay to a WHOPPING $13 was going to do something in a city where 1 bedrooms go for 2k

    3. OP*

      I actually left out some details, I tried to be brief (and failed). He really stepped in it on that one!

      But prior to my bf putting in his resignation he became so desperate for a raise or something that he made a comment along the lines of “Do I need to quit in order for you to pay attention?” So when he did resign, Sam’s first reaction was to laugh and say “This isn’t going to work” because he thought we were bluffing just to get a raise! He is a corny cartoon villain. 

      He wasn’t happy when we made his last day a Friday, instead of Saturday when the actual work week ends. But my bf had to go in on a Saturday to get his finals checks and such. Sam turned red when BF asked if he had trouble finding coverage lol

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Why am I suddenly seeing Snidley Whiplash and/or Boris Badanov and Natasha Nogoodnick?

  12. Maestra*

    I only just found this original letter THIS MORNING in the new wait, what? section and was so hoping for an update. Woo!!!

    1. Plebeian Aristocracy*

      Same here. I was really bummed there wasn’t an update, and then there it was.

  13. Bongofury*

    I wonder if the receptionist and the GM are in a relationship (maybe platonic, not going to the “casting couch” dispersions) and that’s why she got moved in?
    I’d LOVE to hear the story about the mechanics and Sam, my spouse is a mechanic and some of his stories are so ridiculous, they could fill up a whole “Wait, what?” link.
    Unfortunately mechanics are excluded from most worker protections like COVID sick pay, any PTO requirements, etc because they’re “commission”. UGH.

    1. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

      I suspect the receptionist was very effective in her old position, and so they assumed that general competency would transfer. Given the overall circus-monkey management, it’s possible they were trying to keep another good employee who’d also had enough.

    2. OP*

      The commission thing is CRAZY to me. Like i understand it but you really have to be an amazingly efficient worker for that to really make you a lot of money.

      I always avoid assuming a woman got a better job for sexual reasons, but honestly its hard not to think that because it was such a terrible decision. They told him it was part of some “swap”. They got an employee and company got the receptionist.

      1. Anon Supervisor*

        My dad was a mechanic for 20 years at a Ford Dealership. When they started floating the idea of their mechanics switching to commission based pay (you could choose then), he flatly refused. The Service Manager was a petty tyrant who would give his favorites the high paying work (transmissions and other complicated engine work) and give others oil changes and brake replacements. He wasn’t one of the chosen few, so he stayed on salary despite numerous attempts to get him to switch. Ironically, when I was in college, I saw the SM at the bar and he hit on me. Dude new me when a was little kid and that my dad is a hot head. Luckily my dad didn’t work there anymore.

    3. OP*

      The mechanic story is super long but the TLDR version of it is the mechanics were asking for more money during the pandemic because they were working like dogs and Sam was collecting bonus checks for their great performance. Instead of giving them a bonus check or a raise, he decided that he would replace everyone! When he couldnt find people in the area to work for them (gee, i wonder why) he flew to NY and recruited some, promising them a higher salary, a LARGE signing bonus AND relocation fee. The guys got word of that while he was in NY and alllll quit on the spot. Like how insulting! You have all this money for relocation fees and signing bonuses and you travel to another state to find people?! He cut his trip short and did not bring anyone back.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        My gob is well and truly smacked. It is like how to sabotage yourself in 3 easy steps.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Wonder how many of those mechanics were “now unavailable” because another shop scooped them up while they were on strike?

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Based off of OP’s other replies I’d actually bet a Masters Degree in Brownnosing and a PhD in KissUpKickDown.

    2. Liz T*

      I’m guessing the GM is just also a mediocre-at-best white dude and is offended by the very notion that guys like him should have to be competent or reasonable, so he protects Sam like he’s protecting himself–cuz he is. If we start demanding that white men actually do their jobs properly, where would that put GM???

  14. A Simple Narwhal*

    Wow what a delightful update! I wish OP’s rent concerns weren’t a thing but other than that it sounds pretty good otherwise!

    Hopefully we’ll get another one where we hear Sam finally getting his comeuppance!

  15. RJ*

    Sam must have something on either the company overall or on the GM specifically because I cannot see why he hasn’t been fired after causing all the havoc he has. Kudos to your bf, OP for his resiliency and I hope he does well at the new job!

  16. WFH with Cat*

    I am stupified to find out that Sam survived all the fall-out … but I do love most of this update, especially that the OP’s bf revealed the raise he had been offered so mechanics still on the job were able to negotiate higher raises than they had been offered. Excellent!

  17. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    So glad that your bf is out of there, OP. Especially since Sam still has a job(?!) despite multiple complaints and awful behaviour. I wish both of you the best in the future when it comes to your rent.

  18. Heffalump*

    Judging by the labor rate at my local garage, I’d think it’s unwise to mistreat mechanics.

  19. Dhaskoi*

    Sounds like a happy ending . . . although often the luxury end of the market is the most recession proof because the rich tend to stay rich no matter what happens to the rest of us.

    1. OP*

      Of course. However that was not the case in this area during covid (where the rich only come to play, not live) they had massive layoffs and its likely to happen again.

  20. idwtpaun*

    Thanks for the update, OP, obviously this was a hotly anticipated one!

    How Sam still has a job there is… wow. Just wow. Some companies can’t be saved if you give them a step-by-step guide on what to do. They’ll just keep trucking along as a disaster-wagon with the wheels falling off. Good luck to your boyfriend in his new job!

  21. Boof*

    “I’m not saying you should work for free, I’m just saying you should somehow work 60 hours but only log 40” yeahright!

  22. The Tin Man*

    This is a good update, but I worry for the current staff because Sam is just going to learn to be more subtle and untraceable with his awfulness instead of providing written and signed documentation of how bad he is.

  23. Ann Lister’s Wife*

    I work in an adjacent industry that does heavy business with luxury car dealerships. None of this surprises me. Certain brands of car are more toxic than others. I’m glad for OPs bf and the other service techs, but I can totally believe the manager is being protected by GM.

  24. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

    How did the new person get the job? She knew someone and agreed to work at a cheap rate. And the company got what it paid for.

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