Horrible Bosses Survey: Nazis, Human Dartboards & Unemployed Santas

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: March 28, 2012

In Honor of the New Movie “Horrible Bosses,” Salary.com Polled Its Readers to Find the Worst Real-Life Bosses

At some point in your career it’s happened to you. You get saddled with “that boss.” The boss who drives you crazy, mistreats you and takes credit for your hard work. A boss who is just horrible!

That’s the premise of the recently released movie “Horrible Bosses,” starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. Three friends with three wretched bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston) get so fed up at work they devise a plan to rid themselves of their respective employers - permanently!

Some Horrible Bosses Act Like Evil Dictators

“How would you like it if your boss bragged about her Nazi grandfather at work in an official meeting? And, she continued with how wonderful it was to come across her family heirlooms that consisted of her grandfather’s Nazi SS Gestapo uniform.”

Horrible Bosses Don't Give a Darn About Wedded Bliss

“Many years ago I worked for a retail store and my boss was a woman in her 50’s, never married, bitter and overly critical of anything her staff did. My now husband and I moved to the U.S. from Europe in 2000 and were engaged to be married. Our plan was to get married at the courthouse here in Colorado and then go back home to have our wedding. I cannot even describe how shocked I was when I was told by my boss I cannot take a day off to go to the courthouse. I actually had to get married and then go back to work at 1 pm.”

Horrible Bosses Don't Respect Personal Space or Property

“I once had a boss who tracked everything we did in 15 minute increments; not excluding bathroom breaks. He would often stop by my desk to pick up my personal copy of a design magazine on his way to his 15 minute restroom break. Yes, I said 15 minutes! Fifteen minutes later he would stroll back from the restroom and drop it on my desk as he passed. I could see the restroom door from my chair, so I know he took it with him. EWWW!”

Horrible Bosses Take Money-Saving Measures to the Extreme

“I was once reprimanded for printing a proof of a 1-square-inch piece of black and white art on a clean 8.5 x11 laser printer page. He said I was ‘wasting paper.’ Also, there were a couple hundred light bulbs in our work area. One of my degree-holding coworkers had the daily task of dating light bulbs with sharpie ink and calculating how long each bulb had burned when they burned out.”

Horrible Bosses Like to Play God

“My former boss was studying to get his doctorate in Theology. I was expected to type all his papers and had to bring them home to type them. He didn't pay me for doing it. It was a very low paying job and I was promised a raise after 90 days. After 6 months, he offered me a nickel an hour raise and I told him I thought the company needed it more than I did.”

Horrible Bosses Are Completely Unrealistic

“He'd promised all the holidays off but I had to fight to get them because he didn't want to miss any phone calls. My only vehicle broke down and I didn't have a way to work. It was 15 miles from my house and I had vacation time built up. I asked if I could take a vacation day while my car was being repaired and he refused to let me off. I couldn't afford a taxi and couldn't find a ride so I walked. I made it halfway and it began to storm. We had severe storm warnings and the sky really opened up. I finally was offered a ride and accepted. I was a late for work because of having to walk and he docked me for the time I was late!”

Horrible Bosses don't even treat you like you're human

“A boss at a previous job had an office across the hall from me and my office mate. We were frequently called into her office to discuss business issues. One day, rather than call our names or use the phone, she whistled for us as if she was calling the dogs.”

It should be illegal to be a Horrible Boss

“I quit soon after discovering that I was paying my FICA taxes as well as his FICA contributions on the $99.00 per month credit I received in my salary for health insurance. Can we say illegal? He said that I was too nice to do anything about it. When I finally walked out for good, he replaced me five times within the first six months. I heard that there was a Facebook group for all the ex-employees who told that man to shove it. There were 18 members by 2009 and surely still growing.”

Horrible Bosses Think Giving Birth is No Excuse to Miss Work

“Several years ago, while my wife was pregnant, we made a decision to induce labor. I told my boss I would need Friday off that week to be at the hospital. His response is thing legends are made of.  He was angry that we would schedule labor on a Friday and said "Why wouldn't you make these plans for a Saturday? That way you don't have to miss any work." My manager then spent the next 45 minutes in a rant about how time and time again I put my family above work. He told me he was just not able to keep my pay at a similar rate of that of my peers due to my inability to make a total commitment my job. "Family has to come 2nd. You're here to work.” I zoned out when he started talking about replacing me. That Friday we had a healthy baby boy. After working there for 10 years I quit my job two months later and have never given it a second thought.”

Death in the Family? Horrible Bosses Don't Care

“My husband died and then I was diagnosed with an illness a few months later. When I told my boss about the illness he said “It’s always something with you isn’t it?!”

Horrible Bosses Don't Care That You're Going Under the Knife

“My knee locked up and I still showed up at the plant in pain and dragging my leg around tending to problems on the plant floor. The doctor scheduled knee replacement surgery at the end of month, which coincided with their monthly $10M sales push. I notified my boss and arranged for a coworker to cover for me in my absence. Even said I'd be available for phone support while I was hospitalized. My boss, who required assistance to open her laptop, sent me an email saying ‘I'm so disappointed you chose to have your elective surgery at a time when you're needed so badly here.’”

Only a genuine Ho-Ho-Horrible Boss ruins Christmas

“My boss got drunk at a Christmas party and fired the employee who was playing Santa Claus in front of a room full of kids.”

Horrible Bosses Are Also Wildly Inappropriate

“My former boss was a computer moron and he did not know how to use a search engine at the time. All day long he was deleting or otherwise losing important documents that I had to forensically retrieve from the temp folder or the deleted files folder---sometimes two and three times a day! He was an email distribution list moron as well. He crafted an email invitation---on company time---to his friends about a big bash that he was hosting with titillating details about the more noteworthy physical attributes of a few of the invited guests, which he subsequently sent to the entire team at the office. Oops.”

Horrible Bosses Aren't the Sharpest Tools in the Shed

“My boss explained his management philosophy this way (and this is verbatim): ‘People are tools. When you wear a tool down or it gets broken, you throw it away and get a new one.’ WOW! That was an eye-opening conversation. Looking at how he treats people, all I can say is that he lives out his philosophy.”

Will a Horrible Boss Respect Your Privacy? Don't Bet On It

“Before I switched jobs I had a boss who called me in her office and yelled at me for playing poker over the weekend at my friend’s house. She said she had heard that I lost a lot of money and wanted me to know that she was appalled to hear that as a person in the public eye (my job is very visual and media driven). She said she would not like me to play poker on my personal time because it gave the agency a bad name. As if that was not bad enough, she also said that she was going to write that in my personnel file, and she made me cry all the way home. What a tyrant! I did lose $100, but what’s that to her?”

Don't Expect Compassion From Your Horrible Boss

“A co-worker’s friend died. The boss asked me if I knew when she was going to return to work. I said that she would probably use the allotted five days of bereavement. He replied that the five days of bereavement were only if you NEEDED it. I couldn’t imagine not needing (only) five days of bereavement when your father died. The interesting thing was his son died in a car accident a couple of years later and I heard he didn’t come back to work for over three weeks.”

Sometimes Horrible Bosses stink. Literally

“Our boss is an unqualified pathological liar and has terrible body odor that actually lingers long after this individual has left the room. We have, on occasion, resorted to coating our nostrils with Vicks to try to block the smell. Unlike on CSI, this trick is not all that successful and mostly just makes your nostrils burn like hell.”

Horrible Bosses are not #1. But they'll time your #2

“My boss would time how long people were in the bathroom and if he thought you had been in there too long, he would pound on the door and tell you to get out of there and get back to work. Also, you were not allowed to use the restroom for the first hour you were at work or the first hour after you came back from lunch because you should have used the bathroom on your own time. This charmer of a boss would also photograph the top of the desk with his Polaroid and then come in and check what he been moved so he knew you were working. He would also rifle through your drawers and he allowed NO personalization of your cube/office because, ‘This is work. It shouldn’t feel like home and no one wants to see your family anyway!’ Needless to say, I left skid marks getting out of there!”

Horrible Bosses Paint a Bulls-Eye on Employees They Don't Like

“I disagreed with my boss in a meeting and he threw a dart that stuck in my knee, then he asked if I had a tetanus shot recently and sent me to the doctor because I hadn’t. It was more than 20 years ago, but it’s one of the most memorable boss moments I’ve ever had.”

If You Have a Horrible Boss These Books Might Help

Crazy Bosses: The interpersonal dynamics of working with a crazy boss.

Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots: 201 Smart Ways to Handle the Toughest People Issues

Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst. A wakeup call for bosses everywhere and a survival guide for those who work for them.

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Boss? How to Survive 13 Types of Dysfunctional, Disrespectful, Dishonest Little Dictators

When You Work for a Bully: Assessing Your Options and Taking Action. The guide for dealing with your bully boss.

Nasty Bosses: How to Deal With Them Without Stooping to Their Level:

My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide. How to cope with your micromanaging boss.