They say people don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. Sometimes the bosses are so bad, you can't leave soon enough. People share the skin-crawling stories of their worst bosses and how they finally quit. Stories slightly edited for clarity.
Mom On A Power Trip
“As a nanny it’s weird when your boss is a mom with no actual experience in being a boss.
The worst boss I worked for wasn’t that bad when I first started working for her. Over the course of the year she kept adding more things for me to do. I wasn’t just taking care of the baby. I became their maid too with no pay increase. Eventually it got even worse and I was basically her personal assistant.
She got a taste of power and completely abused it. As a young 19 year old it was hard for me to see how bad the situation was. It wasn’t an overnight thing.
I was eventually ‘fired’. The day after I was fired she called me asking where I was.
By that time the job was so bad. I did everything in that house. From taking care of the baby to hand washing the mom’s delicates. She got me a ‘uniform’ and would reprimand me if it wasn’t kept well. Same with hair and make up requirements.
She was a couple weeks pregnant with baby #2 and was suggesting I become a wet nurse for them.
After I was fired I never went back. This lady flipped out and showed up at my house.”
Big Bad Bully
“Probably the worst boss I ever had was at a McDonald’s. We had a younger manager for the first 10 or so months I was there, then they decided to bring in a second manager from another store. For the first week or so he was fine, until one day one of the 16 year old girls that usually works drive thru was put on the grill for no reason. She got grease on her shirt and the manager said she looked like a pig and to clean it or go home. She left crying.
The next day another underage kid asked to just get a drink of water after a 3 hour non stop rush…the kid looked like he was about to pass out. The manager told him no, so he said he’d drink from the sink in the back. He told him if he did that he would send him home. I lost my mind when I heard that. Basically told him to pound sand and left, never went back.
I heard that a month later he was fired.”
No Two Week Goodbye
“I worked in an agency environment. Big clients and big expectations, but we had a fairly small staff for all the projects we took on. Late nights were expected and some nights I barely had time to eat before I had to sleep to go in tomorrow.
Me and a few others tried to ask for structural change to get some breathing room between projects. We were always ignored by upper management and my boss.
But, hey, they get us pizza after a big project, so we can’t complain, right?
I was tired, frustrated, and felt like I was just a tool for the man. We worked late and never got anything back from the company.
So I sent out applications. Found a bigger company with a cool culture. They offered me a gigantic pay raise, plus better benefits.
I went to my boss to hand in my resignation. I gave him 2 weeks notice. This is somehow a thirty minute conversation telling me how miserable I’ll be at this other company and how good I had it here. I hadn’t even mentioned the name of the new company, so I knew he was talking straight bologna.
I went back to work, thinking I had my 2 weeks confirmed. However, my boss then pulls me back into his office and says he’s going to let me go today. Like right now. Get your things and get out.
I did so, never looked back. My new job is great by the way. Better boss, better work, better life.”
Put Some Money In The Glass
“I had a friend who worked in a café, doing dishes. She once accidentally broke a glass in the sink and cut open her hand pretty badly (as in, she needed stitches). When she asked her boss if she could call her mom to come pick her up, since it was clearly no use to keep her working that day, they said that that was alright, but first she should put some money in the jar because she broke a glass… Like what? You can deal with that later, just let the kid get fixed up first!!
She just did as they asked and went home, but she did not stay there for much longer.”
“I had a boss who would scream in my face so often, I started to strategize how I would handle it when she finally hauled off and hit me. She never did, but she did eventually lose her job after being accused of child abuse.
I quit before the child abuse stuff. And I will never, ever forget the day I quit, the grand boss saying, ‘We really value you, we’re sorry to see you go.’ After years of working under an abusive supervisor, complete with formal complaints and documentation, that remains the most hollow thing anyone has ever said to me in a professional environment.”
That’s Not What We’re Here For
“I don’t know if I left any one person so much as a toxic overall culture that owned our very souls.
Nobody ever received a positive comment in evaluations ever. That question got raised in a meeting once, ‘Do you think we could say something nice about somebody just once?’
That was met with the immediate response of, ‘That’s not what we’re here for!’
I resisted all of this for five long years, but the right people who held years long grudges against me personally rose up to the right positions to put together a case that would get me railroaded out.
Fortunately, my direct report clued me in as to what was going down, so I was able to interview and get another job before the hammer came down.
They were gonna drag me in on a Tuesday at 11 o’clock. I got the other job offer at nine. I preemptively turned in a resignation that said nothing more than, ‘I resign my position effective XX/XX/XXXX.’
I also refused an exit interview and presented state and federal statute that showed I was not required to give one.
Even though they so badly wanted me gone, they were LIVID that I’d beaten them to the punch. Reality was they wanted to put me on a set up to fail PIP so they could exploit my expertise through the summer season.
Instead, I handed them a post dated resignation, knowing they would immediately throw me out of the building, and that they would have to pay me through the effective date, which also got me my annual profit sharing distribution.
Now I’m in a job with far fewer hours, making more money, with coworkers that I actually like, and the old company laid off ten percent of their employees, and slashed the compensation of those who remain by thirty percent. Good. See Ya!”
Not The Type For Ultimatums
“The client let slip how much they were paying for me. In one month they paid more than my annual salary.
I asked my boss for a pay raise and was told there was just no money available. I said I’d give them six weeks to find the money and she laughed at me as I wasn’t ‘the type to give ultimatums.’
When I handed my notice in (after securing a better offer from another company) my boss’s boss offered me a 50% raise to stay.”
This Is Probably Illegal
“I’m currently trying to leave. I’m salary. If I work any amount under 40, she docks it. If I work over 40, I get my salary pay. A few weeks ago I worked 2 days out of the week then discovered I had been around a Covid positive person and I started developing symptoms. Work sent me home, I got a test and work had me stay home until I got the results 4 days later, negative. Even though I’m salary, my paycheck showed up HUNDREDS of dollars less than normal and my boss didn’t bother to tell me my paycheck would be significantly less. Luckily I went to HR and they told her she couldn’t do that. She later called me and apologized saying she didn’t know she had to pay.”
Seventeen Years Down The Drain
“After working for the same company for 17 years, and always getting praise for my work, I finally got a position in a department I’d always wanted. My manager was excited to have me and continued to praise me.
Then one night, when I was on-call, we got an ‘urgent page’, which was sent to my phone…and my phone didn’t ring. So my manager was called. She texted me a few times. Well, I don’t have my texting set to be very loud.
Suffice to say she was kind of upset the next day. I apologized that my phone hadn’t worked properly for the call, and explained that if she’d tried to call me instead of text, it probably would have been fine. And besides, my ‘backup’ co-worker had got the call and fixed it really fast. I mean, that’s what backups are for, right?
She wouldn’t have it. Kept telling me I’d messed up, and that it better not happen again. Suggested I get another phone as my backup. wut?! I apologized again but said ‘Look, what happened could happen to anyone. Mistakes happen. got the call and handled it anyways. Besides, it really wasn’t super-urgent.’
She would not let it go. The kicker is, she’d never started out asking me WHY I’d missed the call. Her immediate response before we even sat down to talk about it was along the lines of ‘Maeelstrom, you missed this important call so had to fix it, and he should not have had to. You’re in trouble.’
Our relationship went downhill from there. Mind you, I’d put 17+ years into this place, was a great employee, had lots of respect from my peers AND HERS. I would get up early and work late to accommodate our customers’ schedules. Put in time on my days off for truly urgent issues, and never got OT pay. I didn’t mind. I liked the job and got paid well.
After a few months, she and I ended up sitting with an HR rep who tried to mediate a truce between us. Problem was, he was mostly on her side. Just kept bringing up the (very few) times I had NOT performed up to par, and totally missing the context every time. Like ‘Boss-Lady tells me there was this one email where you were a little rude to the customer. Is that true?’ Me: ‘Well, let me explain the situation.’ HR Rep: ‘No. Just answer the question. Were you rude?’ Me: ‘Well, yes, a bit I suppose.’ HR Rep then proceeds to move on to the next humiliating question.
After a bit of this, I looked across the table at my boss and said ‘Boss, is any of this situation going to change with you?’ She just looked at HR Rep.
‘OK, that’s what I thought.’ I stood up, threw my security badge on the table, grabbed my personal bag (which I had prepared for just such an eventuality), and said ‘I quit.’
And walked out.
Funny thing is the HR Rep followed me out the door, calling after me. ‘Maeelstrom! We don’t want this!’
I turned around.
‘Neither did I.’
I felt SO GOOD driving home. I’ve got a much better job where I’m much more appreciated now.”
Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold
“Used to work at Comcast (boo hiss) and I had aspirations to move up into management
I was pretty green to the corporate world so I thought that helping my supervisor with her job would help move me up. And by help, I mean my supervisor made me do her entire job. I ran her meetings, did scheduling, went through her paperwork etc. all while she sat at her desk playing Candy Crush on her iPad. I did all this while working on the phone.
I did this for months until one day I snapped on a customer. Now, I take full responsibility for what I did but that wasn’t good enough for her. Nope, she had to sit me down and humiliate me in front of the upper management. For an hour and a half she made me listen to a recording of my entire mess up while pausing it every few minutes to say something like ‘How could you?’. I was in tears at the end and she just used that to show how bad of an employee I am and how good a boss she is for ‘helping’ me learn from my mistakes.
She then pushed for me to receive a Final Notice. If I went out of line one more time for a year I’d lose my job. She wasn’t going to fire me, I was going to do that for her.
HR was predictably useless, as were my friends in management. Now that I had gone from being an up and coming star to a pariah people didn’t give a care about me.
Except my supervisor, who still expected me to do her entire job.
My next few days were filled with a considerable amount of crying. What followed was rage. Endless, white hot rage
I didn’t quit. I didn’t give up. Instead I decided the best revenge was success.
I went back to school to finish my degree. After a while I was offered an internship, which I took. While I was fighting an uphill battle at Comcast 40 hours a week I was at an internship 20 hours a week while being a full time student.
And I let my supervisor know this. ‘Sorry Boss’ I’d say ‘I can’t do this report for you. I have a final to study for.’
‘Want me to stay late? No can do. My Internship is working me hard so I want to spend my night off at home doing nothing.’
I basically ignored her whenever possible. If she asked me emailed me a question relating to my job, I’d respond but if she sent out a group email about some incentive plan I would send it to the trash. At one point she pulled me into a meeting which was actually just me and her where she basically antagonized me and repeatedly told me ‘you don’t know me’- That was really awkward, by the way.
This went on for that year I was on probation. And during that time I always kept my sales numbers low. Not low enough to get fired but just at the point where people could see I wasn’t trying. This affected my commission but it was so worth it. Why?
Three months before my probation was over I had the option to switch to another supervisor, which I did with gusto. Those last three months upped my effort and my new supervisor saw my sales numbers skyrocket. I had intentionally undercut my commission to make my old boss look bad. The upper management saw how my new supervisor succeeded in one month where my older supervisor failed in nine and it pleased me to no end that I humiliated her like how she humiliated me.
On the one year anniversary (to the day!) of my probation I put in my two week notice. In my exit interview I let them know what I did with my life (I omitted the undercutting part) and that I spent the last year becoming a better person just to spite Comcast and that I waited to quit until after my probation was over.”
“I remember I was a supervisor at this one job and they gave huge bonuses to non-management staff for performance. Thing was I was doing such a good job that all my direct reports hit theirs regularly so they were making 10% more than me and I got nothing for doing so well.
Months later they moved an entire department from overseas to our office and cited me as the reason. I applied for management but was denied. I applied as a regular employee and was again denied cited as a ‘sub-par employee’ who won employee-of-the-month weeks earlier. When the department was fully up and running I was chatting with someone in there and they said ‘I’m surprised you didn’t apply for this department. All we do is confirm the work you’ve submitted for the past year.’ I kind of snapped at that point.
I think the fire in me kind of went out. I still did my job because I was still proud of my direct reports since my original team all got promoted and I was such a strong leader that I got everyone who barely passed training and turned them around. One girl passed with 51% and everyone assumed she would be let go in a matter of weeks. After two months under me she made employees-of-the-month. Geez, when I made employee-of-the-month a new hire in a different department and different shift I never met before had his apartment catch fire and he had no insurance so we were having a fundraiser for him so as soon as I got my award I handed over the $500 gift certificate to a nice mall to the fundraiser. And the award was for getting the department moved to our office!
Like, even though I was never hired as part of the department I was considered so good at it that 1 day out of the 2 week training I gave a presentation on it during classes. There were even a few times when some people wanted to get into the department so they would ask me so all I would say is ‘don’t ask me. Clearly even I can’t get in there’ and one guy just said ‘don’t kid yourself. You are that department. Everyone here knows that and it’s criminal what they are doing to you.’
I worked swing shift (3-11pm) and it got to the point where I had to attend conference calls with HQ at 7am so I would go home, sleep for 4 hours, drag myself to work for an hour then go back home and try bring myself back to life for my regular shift. And when the original manager of the department who denied me as part of it was fired as manager but kept on as a regular employee they had to move him to another department, otherwise I would have been his supervisor.
So here I was by far the lowest ranking manager attending operations meetings, I was the unofficial third trainer for new employees and had a legendary record who keeps getting passed over for promotions. And thanks to the bonus structure I was one of the lowest paid in the department. I got fired when I refused to attend a management seminar the overall office boss made us all attend. It was some new age hippie seminar ran by her boyfriend. All my unfinished work was sent straight to the CFO. Like a month or two later I started getting messages from friends who still worked there. HQ came and fired the entire upper management team. When they announced it to the staff they called them ;the biggest bunch of complete idiots I’ve ever met in my entire life.; I was hopeful they would hire me back but by that point they planned on closing the office over the next 6 months.”
Godzilla, My Boss
“I worked in a German bakery some years ago for a month that fits this incredibly well. The staff was some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, the job paid better than most places and it had pretty good benefits.
But then there was the manager. Holy cow, what a terrible person she was. She was such a colossal mess that if she visited Japan, the emperor would call Godzilla to help protect the country.
On my trial shift, which she scheduled to start at 4:30 am the night before, she screamed at me within the first 10 minutes because I didn’t know exactly the places of all the pastries on the shelves or the respective names. She constantly made remarks about construction workers saying they are always in trouble when they came in as if they are sub-humans. She constantly screamed at me to do better, even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong and twice she called me a ‘dumb idiot’ incredibly loud in front of the full bakery.
I quit on the first opportunity I had and made sure to tell the regional director (it was a massive chain) everything she did to me and the other staff, and apparently I was the first person the bring anything like this up since they opened.”
Principal On A Power Trip
“I’m a teacher and I worked at a school that was in a very tough neighborhood. Most of my students had never been out of the neighborhood. We had to know which kids were in which gangs to not sit them near each other, fights happened pretty regularly, grass deals were frequent. There was definitely behavioral issues but there were also a lot of really good kids just trying to go to school.
The principal was on a power trip. She was a bully to kids, teachers and parents. My first year there and as a teacher there were four of us that taught that grade level. Year starts in August. By October, one of the four was quietly dismissed for inappropriate contact with a student. By early December, another of the four had her skull cracked open on a locker while trying to help break up a fight. That left two of us and a constant rotation of subs because the principal would not hire permanent replacements. A majority of the time a sub wouldn’t show up and the students would be split among myself and the remaining teacher. There were all over forty days when I’d have 45 plus kids in my classroom. I struggled, to say the least. I also got no support from admin. At my end of the year evaluation, my principal said I struggled (no kidding….I was drowning) but that I could have taken more professional development to help.
Every faculty meeting was filled with everything we were doing wrong. Never anything positive.
The principal took away everything positive. Kids normally had to wear khakis or dockers and polos but could wear jeans on Fridays, same with staff. She stopped that. She stopped pep rallies, she cancelled all dances, anything that could be positive to encourage kids, she got rid of. Three is my students wrote her a letter to ask why she took away the 8th grade dance from everyone and why not just exclude the kids that cause the problems instead of punishing everyone. They asked me to give her the letter because they were afraid of her. She refused to take it from me and said that they (the students) needed to give it to her.
I stuck it out for three years but by the end of my third year, I had already made my decision I was leaving, as much as I would miss my students. Then a murder happened on campus that really cemented my decision.”