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When bosses attack: Real-life horror stories

  • Story Highlights
  • He tries too hard to be your friend
  • He's discriminatory and he sexually harasses his female staff
  • He wants to fit in at the office
  • Workers vent on Save the Assistant, "a blog for the beleaguered"
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By Rachel Zupek
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Editor's note: has a business partnership with, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to

( -- If you've got a job, you most likely also have a boss. And if you have a boss, you may wish you didn't.


Your boss may be the guy who belittles you in front of co-workers; the woman who passes off your ideas as her own; or the jerk that bullies his staff. An astonishing 44 percent of U.S. workers say they've worked for an abusive boss, according to a 2007 poll conducted by the Employment Law Alliance.

Then there are the bosses who are in a category all of their own.

Take Michael Scott, from the hit TV series "The Office." Scott, drunk on power and the absolute "all about me" manager, encompasses every quality of a bad boss in some way:

He tries too hard to be your friend: "You can love a boss like you love a father."

He's discriminatory: "It's important that this company celebrates its diversity. You know what, Stanley? Come Kwanza time, I have got you covered, baby!"

He wants to fit in at the office: "I love inside jokes. I'd like to be a part of one some day."

He sexually harasses his female staff: "You know what Pam, if in 10 years I haven't had a baby, and you haven't had a baby..."

You get the picture.

Bosses like Michael Scott do exist and employees have to deal with them every day. The good news is they don't have to commiserate alone.

Save the Assistant (STA), "a blog for the beleaguered," is a hub for workers to anonymously rant about their bosses or jobs, says Lilit Marcus, co-founder of the site. Marcus and STA co-founder Ashley Seashore, launched the site in 2006 after realizing the Internet was lacking a resource for assistants as a community.

"Save the Assistants has two main purposes," Marcus says. "To provide a forum where assistants can rant or let off steam about their jobs; and to empower assistants and help them make decisions that will make their work situation better, whether it means improving their current situation or finding a new one."

Think you have a nightmare of a boss? Read these tales from scarred employees ... you might find some comfort.

My boss wanted a totally hairless body ...

"I had a super crazy boss. She wanted to have a totally hairless body, so she went in for electrolysis. After every session, she would come back to the office, go in the bathroom and put on this special cream -- all over, if you catch my drift -- in front of anyone who happened to walk in. The cream stunk up the office for the rest of the day and whenever she walked by, it sounded like she was wearing a diaper because of the cellophane she needed to affix to her soon-to-be-hairless body." -- Susan, Los Angeles

Food scavenger

"One time, we ordered lunch out. She [the boss] had leftovers and they sat in the fridge for about 7 days. A colleague threw them away because they were old. The boss almost sensed it and came to the fridge at lunch asking where her food was. She saw it in the trash, asked why it got thrown out and then ate it out of the trash!" -- Mary, Florida

Walking on broken glasses

"He [the boss] would have me do things like tell his girlfriend he was too busy to talk to her because he thought his power turned her on. One day, he called me while I was on the way to work and told me to come to his apartment. He claimed it was an "emergency." I showed up at his apartment. There he was in his PJs. The "emergency"? He couldn't find his glasses. I quit that day, when I realized that if I stayed I would always be his glasses-fetcher." -- Daisy, New York City

Birth control, not boss control

"My boss has an issue with boundaries. One day I came into the office and informed him that I needed to go to the doctor that day. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I need to go to the doctor today. I'll skip my lunch. It shouldn't take more than an hour. Boss: Why are you going to the doctor? Are you sick? Me: I'd really rather not say. Boss: Well, then why do you have to go today? Me: I just need to get a prescription. Boss: What kind of prescription? Me: Fine. You really want to know? I have to go to the gynecologist to get my birth control refilled. Boss: Oh. OK. Have fun.

Fun? Later that day, when I returned ...

Boss: So how was the doctor? Me: Fine. (shifts uncomfortably) Boss: Did everything go well? Was the doctor nice?" -- Roxy, Washington, DC

Hannibal Lecter

"I was about a month into the job and we had flown to the city from Boston for a new business pitch. The pitch was loosely held at a networking party, so the CEO had several glasses of wine, as did the rest of us. After the party, we went to dinner and when we arrived at our table, my boss, out of no where, turned to me and bit my cheek. "Ow!" I jumped back. "What the hell...?" "I'm sorry," she laughed. "I love biting people! You're so cute, so I just had to bite you." I didn't know what to do with that, so I just laughed and went on with the night." -- Liz, Massachusetts E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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