Category Archives: hostile workplaces

Coping with a toxic boss: “DICK THE DICTATOR”

eBossWatch is delighted to welcome Linnda Durré, Ph.D. as the guest blogger of a new twice-monthly advice column to help people cope with toxic bosses.

Linnda Durré, Ph.D. is Author of Surviving the Toxic Workplace: Protect Yourself Against Co-Workers, Bosses, and Work Environments That Poison Your Day, McGraw-Hill, 02/19/10

As a business and corporate consultant, I’ve analyzed and worked with many difficult bosses over the years. In order to cope and deal with them, you need to know why they act the way they do and how best to deal with them, in order to earn their respect, get things accomplished, and preserve your sanity. In my twice-monthly column, I will help you cope with a different type of boss. Let’s take one of the most frequently complained about types – Dick the Dictator. 
 
DICK THE DICTATOR
 
THE SITUATION: Dick the Dictator is used to leading, voicing his opinion, and having his commands carried out immediately. Dick’s philosophy is “My way or the highway!” and “Do as I say, NOW!” You can’t breathe around him. He always has to be right and he is angry when his orders are not followed. He may also be a yeller and a screamer, demeaning and embarrassing you and your co-workers in public. He may also be a micro-manager and he treats you like you’re an incompetent imbecile who has no vision, smarts, or initiative. He tells you what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.  He rules by intimidation and fear. People usually hate and resent him. They secretly want to see him fail and may resort to passive aggressive tactics to set him up to appear foolish or fall.
 
THE EXPLANATION: Dick may have a background in the military and he believes that he should run everything just like a military command with him as a four star general. His childhood  may have had a very dominating parent – his mother, father or both – who served as role model. Or conversely, one or both of his parents may have been very negligent, passive, and/or weak, which made him feel insecure and scared. Someone needed to take charge, and he took over. He learned to be decisive as a child, to protect himself, feel like he was strong, secure, and in control of his life and destiny.  
 
Beneath that exterior, Dick may be like the Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz,” who inflates himself up through special effects, scaring you and pretending they are someone bigger and more powerful than they are. When Toto pulls the curtain aside to expose a skittish old man manipulating the dials, “The Great and Almighty Oz” yells, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” He does it to cover himself, pretend that it was a mistake, divert your attention, and dissuade you from thinking he’s a charlatan. Be wise and don’t be thrown off by someone like Dick. He is an insecure individual who needs to dominate. Don’t let that happen to you!  
 
What people may not surmise, is that Dick secretly likes others to be strong because they make him feel like he’s supported by other competent people.  So being strong and dependable around him, in a more quiet way, is the way to be. Stand up for yourself and let him know you’re not a doormat. You will get along better when you are not intimidated by him. You’ll also be a role model to the people at work when you do and they’ll admire you for it. Dick will respect you when he feels you are as strong as he is because that connotes dependability and reliability to him.
 
THE SOLUTION: “Dick, I admire your take charge attitude, that you like to get things done and see them happen immediately.  Having a mover and a shaker as a boss is motivating and I like your commitment to excellence.  What doesn’t work is your style – yelling, screaming, intimidating, humiliating, and demanding immediate gratification that is next to impossible to achieve.  People need time to accomplish your goals and you need to have a more realistic expectation about the time involved. You are creating an office of people who resent you and who may become resistant to your demands, slowing production and being secretly and silently rebellious. You don’t want that to happen. We are all competent, dependable people. You can rely on me and on all of us to get things done, and we all expect to be treated with respect, which we will reciprocate. The other people in the department, me included, would all like to get along with you, accomplish our goals, and we would like you to consider our opinions, as we will consider yours. I trust that you will heed my advice, because I’d rather not go to HR to report you for being unrealistically demanding. Thanks for listening. I hope we will accomplish our goals in our department.” 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linnda Durré, Ph.D., a psychotherapist, corporate consultant, national speaker, and columnist, currently hosts and produces her third radio show, “The Linnda Durré Show” on WEUS 810AM Orlando. She has hosted and co-produced two live call-in TV shows, including “Ask the Family Therapist” on the Mayo Clinic-affiliated America’s Health Network, and has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The O’Reilly Factor, among others. She has been featured in publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Parade, and San Francisco Chronicle, and has written for Forbes Online and Orlando Business Journal.

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Workplace bullying led waitress to commit suicide

A teenage waitress at Cafe Vamp, a popular cafe in Australia, committed suicide after she was subjected to systematic physical and emotional workplace bullying by bosses and coworkers. 

Three men who were implicated in the harassment of 19-year-old Brodie Rae Constance Panlock pleaded guilty to a number of workplace charges.

Marc Luis Da Cruz, the owner of Cafe Vamp, pleaded guilty to two charges that included failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment. 

Cafe manager Nicholas Smallwood and chef Gabriel Toomey pleaded guilty to charges of failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of persons.

The local coroner Peter White testified that Brodie Panlock was “emotionally vulnerable” because of her young age, lack of experience, and low self-esteem.  White said that the systematic bullying and “almost daily routine of inappropriate pressure” that the defendants inflicted on Panlock caused her an “unbearable level of humiliation” and led her to jump from a multi-story car park building in September 20, 2006.

The trial of Da Cruz, Smallwood, and Toomey is set to continue on February 5, 2010.

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Texas oilfield service company pays $60,000 to settle race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit

In September, the EEOC announced that an oilfield service company based in Alice, Texas as agreed to pay $60,000 to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit against the company after it investigated complaints by a white worker who was discriminated against by his Hispanic managers because of his race.  After the worker complained to the HR department about the harassment and hostile work environment, the company allegedly fired him in retaliation. 

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Bahama Breeze pays $1.3 million to settle racial harassment lawsuit

The Bahama Breeze restaurant chain agreed to settle an EEOC racial harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of 37 black workers at the Bahama Breeze restaurant in Beachwood, Ohio.  Bahama Breeze has agreed to pay $1.26 million to settle the lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had accused managers at the Beachwood restaurant of ongoing acts of racial harassment and workplace bullying directed against its black workers.  Black workers were frequently called offensive names such as “stupid n—–r,” “homeboy,” “Aunt Jemima,” and “you people.” 

Managers would imitate the stereotypical black mannerisms and speech.  In addition, black workers were often denied breaks while their white coworkers were allowed breaks.  Even though the workers complained about the harassment, Bahama Breeze management did not stop the abusive behavior.

EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said, “No worker should ever have to endure a racially hostile work environment in order to earn a paycheck.  It is particularly disturbing when managers engage in and condone the very unlawful conduct they are required to prevent and correct.  This sizeable settlement should remind employers of the possible consequences of a failure to promote and maintain a discrimination-free workplace.”

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Got a tip about a bad boss that eBossWatch should feature?  Do you want to expose your toxic boss?  Let us know!  Send us an email at tips@ebosswatch.com 

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Jefferson County administrator fired following discrimination lawsuits

The three commissioners of Colorado’s Jefferson County unanimously voted to fire county admininstrator Jim Moore after he and the county were sued for age- and sex-discrimination by two former employees.

Settling the lawsuits has cost the county $766,000.  The former employees, Judy Goebel and Jerelyn Bower, claimed that Moore created a hostile work environment and then fired them in 2007 because of their age and gender.

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Got a tip about a bad boss that eBossWatch should feature?  Do you want to expose your toxic boss?  Let us know!  Send us an email at tips@ebosswatch.com 

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Brigham Hospital surgeon quits after being sued for sex discrimination

Dr. Arthur Day, chairman of the neurosurgery department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has announced that he will resign his position at the end of the month.

In December 2007, Day was sued by one of his employees, neurosurgeon Dr. Sagun Tuli, who alleged that Day subjected her to sex discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation.  Tuli filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and a jury awarded her $1.6 million earlier this year.

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Got a tip about a bad boss that eBossWatch should feature?  Do you want to expose your toxic boss?  Let us know!  Send us an email at tips@ebosswatch.com 

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Phoenix car dealers pay $500,000 to settle EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit

Phoenix-based car dealerships Bell Road Kia and Bell Road Automall have agreed to pay $500,000 to five former employees to settle a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

The five employees were all allegedly demoted, terminated, or forced out after they complained about the harassment.  They claim that both dealerships knew about and tolerated a racially and sexually hostile work environment from 2002-2005 where female employees were propositioned for sexual favors and were called derogatory names.

The lawsuit claims that bosses at Bell Road Kia and Bell Road Automall often viewed pornography on company computers, and one manager masturbated while sitting behind a female employee.

The employees also allege that racial harassment and the use of racial slurs was common at the dealerships.  One manager allegedly told a black employee that he was “only needed when there was a black customer so he could speak his ebonics and close the deal.”

Robert Alexander, owner of Bell Road Kia, said, “We have no comment on the settlement or allegations with EEOC. We are family-owned and operated, we strive for a friendly and happy work environment for our employees.”

Robert Alexander and Allen Holzhauer sold the auto mall in 2007, but continue to manage Big Bell Road Kia.

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Got a tip about a bad boss that eBossWatch should feature?  Do you want to expose your toxic boss?  Let us know!  Send us an email at tips@ebosswatch.com 

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