Bad bosses: List names nation's 50 worst bosses, tells horror stories
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 20, 2013
1/20/13 at 6:55 AM
Check out the top 50 worst bosses
as voted on by eBossWatch.
Related Story: Bad bosses: How to handle bad situations as an employee
When you think you're having a bad work day, be thankful that you don't work for a boss who calls you names, makes racial slurs, gropes you or threatens to give you a negative job evaluation if you refuse to have sex.
Or maybe you do work for a boss who has behaved that badly - or worse.
Bad bosses, unfortunately, are more common than you might think, workplace experts say.
Recently, eBossWatch released its list of America's Worst Bosses for 2012, a list of 50 individuals that includes a college dean, four restaurant owners, a fire department chief, five doctors, a judge, three county prosecuting attorneys and a state attorney general.
No Oklahoma bosses made the 2012 ranking. The 2011 list included Bartlesville police chief Tom Holland at No. 11 after two different federal lawsuits accused the department of discriminating against women and Hispanic people.
Take the case of Frank A. Mora, ranked No. 41, of Oasis One Dry Cleaners in nearby McAllen, Texas. Mora agreed to pay $43,000 to a former employee to settle a lawsuit that accused him of "subjecting the employee to a sexually hostile environment that allegedly included the solicitation of sexual favors, unwanted touching and speaking to the employee in a sexually suggestive manner," eBossWatch states.
In another case, a jury awarded $1.3 million to two former Federal Fruit and Produce employees in Denver in a racial discrimination lawsuit. One employee claimed company co-owner Michael Martelli called him racial slurs, discriminated against him and the other black employee, retaliated against them, and later fired them, according to the website.
Other claims are so lewd that they defy belief.
No. 5 on the list describes the behavior of Richard Moore, who worked for a rent-to-own company in St. Louis that had to pay millions to a former employee to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. An employee claimed that Moore, who was her supervisor, groped her breasts and made comments about her appearance.
Moore also was accused of sneaking up behind her and hitting the top of her head with his penis, according to the website.
He says schoolyard bullies sometimes
get jobs in positions of power.
And it gets worse.
Managers who made the list were accused of workplace harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and creating a hostile work environment.
What makes a bad boss?
Some studies show that anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of people have worked for a bad boss or witnessed workplace harassment and bullying, said Asher Adelman, founder of eBossWatch.
He speaks from personal experience, which is what prompted him to start the website.
"I consider myself a fairly decent judge of character and had interviewed with a company a number of years back, and ... it seemed like a great place to work," he said. "The people seemed nice, and I was completely surprised once I started working there by the hostile work environment. The CEO was very abusive to the employees, including myself."
He started the list four years ago to raise awareness about the trend of bad bosses and hostile work environments and let employees who work in such environments know that they are not alone.
So are bad bosses born or made?
"There is a debate about that issue," Adelman said. "I think you see examples from both ... One thing is for sure, is that hostile work environments are very contagious."
People who work in a toxic environment may become abusive managers themselves and treat employees the same. It's similar to domestic violence or child abuse cases - employees treated in a hostile manner often become hostile managers, he said.
"There are people who are just nasty from childhood, and bosses become bad because they are toeing the corporate line and they want their own promotions and their own raise," said Linnda Durre, syndicated author and psychotherapist who is on the panel that ranks the bad bosses.
"They are made to do the higher work from the higher-ups, so they have sold their soul to the devil for 30 pieces of silver."
Sometimes bosses know they're bad and don't care or are clueless and so entrenched in their own behavior that they don't realize what they are doing, Durre said.
"There is a mafia expression - the fish stinks from the head down," Durre said. "What that means is that people at the top of the corporation set the tone."
Kevin Kennemer said it's also been his experience that good bosses are hard to find. As founder of The People Group, a Tulsa-based human resources consulting firm, Kennemer also sits on the expert panel for eBossWatch and helped rank the bad bosses.
The great leaders often are those who are quiet, soft spoken, humble and more reserved, Kennemer said, citing Jim Collins, the author of "Good to Great."
When asked how they created a great company, great leaders look out the window rather than looking in the mirror. Bad bosses emit negative energy, cause employees to leave meetings and the office feeling depressed and anxious, he said.
Kennemer recalled a boss early in his career who listened and was good at leading people and inspiring them. They could argue and engage in rigorous debate, but Kennemer said he always felt better when he left his boss's office because they had a good working relationship.
He quickly learned that this boss was the exception rather than the rule. Some bosses are truly narcissistic and don't understand why things couldn't be about them, Kennemer said. They view others as servants.
Bad bosses also sometimes see employees as potential replacements for their position and respond through demeaning behavior, he said.
The cost to companies
Kennemer said schoolyard bullies sometimes are the kind of adults who get promoted into the corner office: "They seek power, they want power, and they are willing to fight for it, and they are willing to push and shove their way into it."
Managers and leaders may perceive a bad boss's outward attributes as signs that he or she is tenacious and has the qualities needed to be a great leader.
Such an individual moves up the ladder by kicking people down below, he said. And those who hired this person may have no idea what the individual is really like, Kennemer said. They may overlook certain traits because the individual is good at what he or she does.
But the business that keeps a bad boss will pay for it.
Adelman noted the worst bosses cause financial damage to their business. Lawsuits can lead to companies paying thousands to millions of dollars to settle cases.
To date, the 2012 America's Worst Bosses have cost their employers more than $41 million in monetary damages and lawsuit settlement payments. Of this amount, the worst bosses in the public sector have cost their respective taxpayers more than $21 million, according to eBossWatch.
Several bad bosses on the 2012 list work with government institutions, which leaves taxpayers footing the bill for attorney costs and settlements, Adelman said.
A prosecutor in Denton County, Texas, was awarded a $510,000 settlement in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the county after she claimed she was denied promotions and subjected to a hostile work environment because of her race.
"It's just not ethical for a well-respected organization to keep someone who brings misery into the workplace," Kennemer said. "It's just the right thing to do. Either give them a chance to reform or .... provide some type of help to reform. Otherwise, just let them go."
Therapist to speak at OK Ethics luncheon on Thursday
Syndicated author and psychotherapist Linnda Durré will discuss proven techniques for diagnosing and treating toxic workplace issues quickly and effectively during the Tulsa Chapter of Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium (OK Ethics) luncheon Thursday.
Dealing with pestering co-workers, unmanageable managers or angry clients can take a toll on job performance. Referencing methods outlined in her book, "Surviving the Toxic Workplace," Durré will cover how to pinpoint and treat these office maladies with effective communication, integrity and conflict-negotiation techniques.
The luncheon is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown, 616 W. Seventh St. Cost is $25 for OK Ethics members and $35 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Register at tulsaworld.com/okethics by Monday.
Virginia fire chief earns title of worst boss of 2012
The No. 1 bad boss for 2012 goes to Lt. Timothy Young of the Fairfax County Fire Department in Fairfax, Va., according to a ranking from eBossWatch.
According to the site, Fairfax County agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that former female firefighter Mary Getts Bland had filed against the county.
A jury awarded Bland $250,000. Fairfax County appealed the award, and the judge reduced the amount to $50,000, eBossWatch states.
Bland claimed that she was subjected to repeated sexual harassment from Young, who allegedly asked Bland inappropriate sexual questions during her recruitment interview.
Young also was accused of making sexually harassing comments to Bland during the duration of her employment with the fire department, according to the site.
Top 10 bad bosses of 2012 as ranked by eBossWatch
1. Timothy Young, Fairfax County (Va.) Fire Department, sexual harassment
2. Edward Globakar, New York restaurant owner,
sexual orientation discrimination
3. Trent Bertrand, entertainment lighting company
warehouse manager, Louisville, Ky., sexual harassment
4. Fred Beans and Elizabeth Beans Gilbert,
Pennsylvania car dealership, wrongful termination
5. Richard Moore, supervisor of a rent-to-own company
in St. Louis, sexual harassment
6. Susan Piel, Denton County (Texas) District
Attorney’s office, racial discrimination
7. James Schwartz, former vice president and dean at El Camino College (Torrance, Calif.), sexual harassment
8. Michael Martelli, company co-owner in Denver,
9. Dr. Russell Tomar, Cook County (Ill.) Health and Hospital System, racial and gender discrimination
10. Edward Howze and James Gilbert, CSX Transportation in Fayetteville, N.C., racial harassment
Original Print Headline: Bad boss battle
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466