Monthly Archives: May 2009

Workplace bullying at the UN?

The United Nations, an organization which purports to be at the forefront of supporting human rights, is now defending itself against several allegations of bullying and harassment by bosses at UN offices in various locations around the world.

A number of UN employees have filed sexual harassment charges against their managers.  To their dismay, many of these alleged victims have apparently been retaliated against and have lost their jobs after having complained about their boss’ abusive behavior.

Click here for more information about this developing story.

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Generous CEO gives $60 million gift to his employees

When Leonard Abess, the owner and CEO of Miami-based City National Bank, sold a controlling stake in the bank last fall, he gave $60 million as a gift to his 471 current and former employees.

In explaining this huge gift, Abess said, “I just never thought that I was solely responsible for the success of the bank. I owned the bank. I enjoyed the profits, the dividends. And I always realized that while there were 400-plus people doing the work, making it successful, the profits were going in one direction.  I felt, particularly based on longevity, that these people were owners. They acted like owners. They worked like owners…. I wanted to acknowledge that.”

while the extent of Abess’ generosity is extremely rare among CEOs, it seems consistent with the way Abess has run City National Bank.  Here are a few comments Abess made in an interview which demonstrate his unique management style:

We have never had a layoff. We have paid a bonus to every employee, every year. We have never raised the cost of insurance. Today, the employee’s cost is the same as it was 20 years ago…. I tell young CEOs, that before you cut anybody’s compensation, before you fire anybody for economic reasons, you deal with yourself. Your perks go, your bonus goes, your salary goes. I am very surprised when I see huge amounts of money that go to the people at the top [even] as there are massive layoffs, especially when they accept government money.

We provided, I think, an atmosphere of caring. We were always there. I know my employees. I know their names. I know their spouse’s names, their parents, their children. We have multiple generations there, multiple members of families, people who have met at work and married. And then their children have come to work there. So we always tried to have a family atmosphere. We attend each other’s events — birthdays, weddings and funerals. In hardship, we try to take care of each other. I think we had an atmosphere that, for people, was comfortable and they felt welcome in, so they stayed.

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Woman Wins $6 Million from Hyundai in Hostile Workplace Suit

A woman who previously worked for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama was awarded $6 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Hyundai supervisor, Mike Swindle, harassed Tammy Edwards in 2006, making both inappropriate contact and comments to Edwards.

Edwards reported her Swindle’s toxic behavior to other supervisors, who either ignored her complaints or harassed her themselves. 

After reporting this situation to Hyundai’s HR department, she was transferred from her computer position to a job on the assembly line, where she ended up taking medical leave and later leaving the company.

A number of other harassment complaints filed by other employees were dropped after Edwards was transferred to the assembly line, and Hyundai did not make any efforts to improve the hostile work environment or to reprimand Swindle or any of the other toxic bosses.

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Boss Fires Employee via Facebook

With social networking becoming such an integral part of our lives, both on and off the job, it was only a matter of time before bosses started using social media sites to communicate with, hire, and fire their employees.

The recent firing of an esthetician by her boss via Facebook has sparked a debate about whether “cyber sacking” will soon become a common method used to dismiss employees.

Though she had been previously hired for the job via Facebook, Cystal Bell of Canada was shocked to receive a termination email through Facebook two weeks later.  “I still got dressed and went into work that day because I thought she was kidding,” said Bell.

Have you been hired or fired through Facebook, Twitter, or another social networking site?  Share your experience with us in the the comments below!

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Generous boss shares $500K bonus with employees

At a time when bonuses have become a relic of the past, the employees at Bollinger Insurance were surprised with a $1,000 check paid by company CEO, Jack Windolf. 

Last year, as part of the sale of 51% of the company, Windolf received $500,000 in deferred compensation, and he decided to share it with all 454 of his employees. 

Employees said that this type of generosity is not uncommon for Windolf, who is known for giving out regular holiday bonuses and for treating his employees with kindness and respect. 

Windolf believes that treating employees well is not only the right thing to do, but is also good business practice.  He said, “You have to share with your employees and that’s all we’re doing. It’s not really a gift, it’s an investment.”

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Cindy Crawford’s Husband Sued for Being a Bad Boss

Rande Gerber, the husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford, has been sued by two women for subjecting them to a sexually hostile work environment at his company, Gerber Entities.

According to the women, they complained to Gerber’s human resources department about the abusive behavior.  After the company failed to take any actions, the two former employees decided to file the lawsuit.

Over the past few years, several well-known celebrities have been accused of bullying their employees.  Last summer, actor Christian Bale went on a profanity-laced tirade during the filming of the movie “Terminator Salvation” after the movie’s director of photography accidently walked on the set.

“Am I gonna f—— rip your lights down in the middle of the scene? Then why the f— are you walking right through ‘Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh’ in the background,” Bale allegedly screamed. “What the f— is with you? What the f— don’t you understand?”

One of the most notorious bad boss celebrities is supermodel Naomi Campbell, whose hostile behavior has repeatedly made headlines.  In January 2009, Campbell settled a lawsuit with a former maid who claimed that the supermodel hit her and called her racist names.  In January 2007, Campbell pleaded guilty to a assaulting another former maid with a cell phone.

Naomi Campbell has been described by at least half a dozen former employees and personal assistants as being extremely abusive, repeatedly screaming at and humiliating her employees.

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Types of bad bosses

Psychologists Robert and Joyce Hogan estimate that 60-75% of all managers in the US are incompetent.  Professor Ronald Riggio has put together a list categorizing the main types of bad bosses

  • Laissez faire bosses: These types of managers are unable or unwilling to make decisions on their own, and their subordinates have no choice but to step up and make the decisions themselves.
  • Incompetent bosses: The problem with these bosses is that the decisions they make are mostly poor and harmful to the company.  These managers do not know how to manage, lead, or motivate their employees.
  • Toxic bosses: Unfortunately, most of us have worked for a boss who bullies their employees and creates a hostile work environment. 

Have any of you worked for bad bosses who fall under a different category than the ones mentioned here?

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