- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If you think your employer is tough, try working for Pete Yonski’s boss.

Mr. Yonski, a father of three, was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and applied for disability payments.

Instead of giving Mr. Yonski paid time off and disability benefits, he said his employer threw away the paperwork and lied about ever receiving it.

But there is a silver lining to Mr. Yonski’s workplace woes — his story won him a $1,000 grand prize and a free weekend getaway this week.

The prize was awarded by Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO labor federation, as a part of its annual Bad Boss Contest.

The contest encourages employees to submit stories about their evil employers and vent their pain with other demoralized employees.

The most outrageous story was sent in by a help-desk employee at a manufacturing plant.

One day the plant caught fire and smoke started to drift into the help-desk area. The employee’s supervisor told his staff that only one person could leave every five minutes in order of seniority.

After about 45 minutes, the last employee was coughing, crying and still answering the phones until a security officer dragged her out.

One of the more disgusting stories involved an employee at a university kitchen that had a sewage leak.

The waste seeped across the floor of the kitchen and the problem went unfixed for days.

The employees were told by their director to wear sneakers and were forbidden to call the Health Department.

These examples may be extreme, but lawyers and labor groups say that bad bosses are not that uncommon.

“There are lots of people who don’t know how to manage being a leader of others,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement consulting firm in Chicago. “There are all kinds of bad bosses, there are incompetent bosses, demanding, tyrannical bosses and bosses that simply don’t like you.

“You’re relationship with your boss needs to be strong,” he said. “If it’s not, you won’t get promotions or raises and your position in the company may be compromised.”

Mr. Challenger said that the first step is to try to repair the relationship and try to work out your problems with the boss.

But for some of the aforementioned bad bosses, employees should start researching their rights.

Claudia Davidson, of the Law Offices of Claudia Davidson in Pittsburgh, said American employees have federal rights to protect them, and workers should get as much information as possible about those rights.

“It might also be a good idea to seek help from a co-worker whom they trust and make sure there is a witness to any kind of situation that might be improper,” Ms. Davidson said.

“However, there is some on-the-spot judgment that people may have to make, like, ‘Am I going to get up and leave or not?’ “



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