Category Archives: Toxic 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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Department of Interior pays employee $150,000 to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

In September 2009, the Department of Interior was ordered to pay a Federal employee $149,459 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a Department of Interior employee named Celeste Gray who claimed that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor for over two years.

Gray alleged that her supervisor “rubbed her shoulders, called her into his office to pick up trash off the floor in front of his desk, put a bottle of oil on her desk for her hair; told her that there was ‘nothing he did not know about a woman’s body.'”

Gray’s allegations were supported by two coworkers, who testified that their boss had asked another employee what kind of bra she had one and would look at the breasts of a female coworker and say, “Oh, I see the girls this morning.”

Gray suffered serious psychological damages as a result of the sexual harassment that she endured.  She suffered from hypertension, headaches, sleep disorder, depression, anxiety, nightmares, low self-esteem, excessive drinking, and alienation from family members.

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Dave’s Supermarket sued by EEOC for sexual harassment

Last September, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Cleveland-based Dave’s Supermarket, accusing a meat department manager of repeatedly sexually harassing female employees and accusing upper management of knowing about the bullying and not taking steps to prevent it.

The EEOC claims that Dave’s Supermarket manager Jugo Vidic subjected female employees to a hostile work environment permeated with sexual harassment that included making repeated, unwanted sexual advances on female employees as well as exposing himself to his female coworkers.

Dave’s Supermarket Chairman Burt Saltzman said, “We don’t think there’s any merit to (the lawsuit), and it’s under investigation.”  Saltzman also said that Vidic still works at the store.

Dave’s is a Cleveland-based grocery store chain which operates 13 stores in Northern Ohio, employing more that 1,500 employees.

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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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Professors sue and demand ouster of Edison College president

Trouble seems to be brewing for Kenneth Yowell, president of Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio, who has drawn criticism from a number of Edison professors. 

Charles Quincy Essinger, a former adjunct professor filed a lawsuit against Yowell and the college for allegedly unlawfully firing him in retaliation for videotaping a board meeting in April 2009 in which the faculty held a no-confidence vote in Yowell.  Essinger also accuses Yowell of writing an email in July that attacked his character and competence.

Stephen Marlowe, an Edison professor whose recent contract-violating layoff outraged faculty members, has been reinstated by the college after his union agreed to drop all of its formal grievances against Yowell and the college. Despite the victory, Marlowe and local union leaders continue to express their dissatisfaction with the leadership of Kenneth Yowell.

Marlowe and a number of other faculty leaders believe that he was laid off because of his recent public criticism of Yowell, both in his involvement with a no-confidence vote in Yowell and as the editor of the local union news blog.

In reacting to his reinstatement, Marlowe said, “We won the battle but not the war. My termination was the last in a series of really heavy handed missteps in leadership. My case was symbolic of what many people have suffered for the last 20 years of (Yowell’s) leadership. The only reasonable outcome of this situation is that (Yowell) retire.”

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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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12 black employees sue Cleco Corp for racial discrimination

Twelve current or former black employees of Cleco Corp., an energy company based in Pineville, Louisiana, filed a lawsuit against the company for allegedly subjecting them to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment where bosses encouraged “racist and dicriminatory comments”.

In addition, the lawsuit says that the company retaliated against employees who complained to Cleco management about the workplace bullying.

The black employees allege that they “were routinely denied promotion while (Cleco promoted) similarly situated white employees with less experience, education and training.”

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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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Lesbian lawyer sues law firm for sexual harassment

After receiving a right to sue notice from the EEOC in November 2009, a former associate of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the law firm for denying her a promotion because she is a lesbian and for not taking action to stop executives from harassing her.

Julie Kamps, a Harvard Law School graduate, worked at Fried Frank from 1998 until January 2009. Kamps alleges that Janice Mac Avoy, a female partner at Fried Frank, sexually harassed her by “knowingly (making) unwelcome sexual advances and sexual comments to Kamps, both alone and in the presence of others.” According to Kamps, Mac Avoy “told Kamps that it was ‘the biggest regret of her life’ that she had not slept with Kamps ‘when she had the chance.'” Mac Avoy also allegedly talked about various sexual acts with Kamps.

Kamps’ complaint also names William McGuinness, chair of the firm’s litigation department, and David Hennes, a litigation partner who allegedly asked Kamps to write a negative review of an attorney that he wanted “to get rid of.” After Kamps refused, she alleges that Hennes began a campaign of harassment against her.

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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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EEOC sues Jack in the Box California franchisee for sexual harassment

Kobra Associates Inc., a Jack in the Box franchisee which owns about 70 restaurants in Northern and Central California, was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for failing to take corrective action to stop a manager from sexually harassing his female employees.

Richard Bartels, the manager of the Jack in the Box restaurant in Paradise, California, was named in the EEOC lawsuit.  Bartels allegedly created a hostile work environment and subjected female workers under his supervision to unwelcome sexual advances and frequent remarks about their anatomy.

Though the female employees repeatedly complained about the sexual harassment through multiple avenues, including leaving messages with Jack in the Box’s ethics hotline, the lawsuit alleges that the company did not act to stop Bartels’ abusive behavior, which continued for more than one 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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