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The Bad Boss Who Thinks She’s A Doctor

I worked for a company for nearly 15 years.  I started out as full time, then hours fluctuated due to economic issues.  (Some weeks, I worked without knowing when I would get paid again).

In 2013, my stepdad passed away from cancer.  My mom and I were, naturally, devastated.  I called my boss to let her know that I would not be in on Monday. (He died on a Sunday).  She told me I could have Monday off with pay, but she wasn’t paying for any other bereavement time because he died on a weekend!

Come to 2016.  My mom died unexpectedly at home early Saturday morning, midnight.  I was completely destroyed, understandably, having been an only child and her dying in my arms.  I called to tell her and let her know I would not be in Monday.  Same thing.

Christmas Eve the same year.  I was visiting my old neighbor, dropped off presents for the grandbabies and visited.  My text was going off like crazy, but I ignored it.  I stopped at a restaurant for dinner (was a family tradition) and checked messages before I went in.  Her daughter ordered something for her son and it didn’t arrive.  I had to go to the office and figure it out for her daughter (who is my age, 40’s).  I ended up missing my church service because of it.

The best is yet to come… I had been having a lot of pain and only working half days because of it.  I finally called in sick and asked my neighbor to bring me to the ER because I literally fell on the floor in pain.  (I crawled to my front door).  I ended up being admitted, and found out I needed emergency surgery.  I got a call the day after I was operated on, pain pump, drain, whole 9 yards.  She wanted to know when I was going back to work!!!  My co-worker brought me flowers and said that she suggested that the office send me flowers.  “It costs too much”.  I was in for a week.  No visit, no further calls.  She called me at home almost every day with questions.  Note that we don’t have short term disability in this state and I wasn’t getting paid.

A few months later, I went to my doctor.  I was having a lot of pain and he wanted me to go to the hospital because I needed my gallbladder removed.  I had to call the office to see if I could get a ride to the hospital, he didn’t want me to drive.  My co-worker put me on hold to ask boss, who started to scream at me.  My doctor heard her and asked for the phone.  He told her I needed to go to the hospital, he was afraid of my gallbladder bursting.  She told him that it couldn’t.  He asked her where she got her degree!!!  She finally gave in.

Needless to say, she replaced me 4 months later.  New girl informed me, in the parking lot (I was training her) that my last day was Thursday.  This was on a Tuesday and I was off the following day.  My replacement left in March, after completely changing everything and donating things she wasn’t supposed to. 0121-19

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Lori January 22, 2019, 7:51 am

    One question….how did you last 15 years?
    Outside of the incidents listed here there must have been more like this. This was a HORRIBLE boss, I hope you quickly found employment with a kinder boss.

  • staceyizme January 22, 2019, 8:22 am

    This strikes me as less of an etiquette issue and more of an issue of corporate malfeasance/ bad faith when dealing with the company’s employees. This might be more a matter of law than of mere etiquette. That said, the outrageous way in which OP was treated should have prompted her to move on long ago. It seems likely that any other employment would have been better than working for this boss.

    • Kat January 22, 2019, 12:52 pm

      If this was in the US and the company had 50 or more employees, FMLA would have applied to all of OP’s medical leave. It’s also illegal in the US to cut paychecks to employees less than twice per calendar month.

      • ladyv21454 January 22, 2019, 2:54 pm

        “It’s also illegal in the US to cut paychecks to employees less than twice per calendar month.”

        Not true at all. I work for the state and we’re paid once a month. Many state and local government units pay that way.

        • Queen of Putrescence January 22, 2019, 3:25 pm

          Very true. When my husband worked for one city, he only received one paycheck per month.

        • rings90 January 22, 2019, 7:14 pm

          Agree, not true I work for a small office & we are only paid once a month.

      • Bea January 22, 2019, 3:28 pm

        From reading it, I’d make a huge wager that this woman does not have 50 employees!

        Also FMLA requires being activated. It doesn’t just mean you can call in and say “I’m on medical leave, I’m invoking my right to FMLA”. No, there’s paperwork, the doctor has to sign off on it and it has to be processed by the employer.

        But it is indeed illegal to not pay within the scheduled pay period. There are differences on if it has to be bi-monthly, some setups are allowed to pay monthly.

      • Calli Arcale January 22, 2019, 9:52 pm

        Bear in mind one crucial thing about FMLA: it doesn’t require they pay you a dime during the time off, which means that for a lot of people, actually using it is impractical.

        • Teapot January 23, 2019, 2:17 pm

          I’ve had to use FMLA a couple of times. Once to take time off to care for my mother and the other time to recover from surgery. Basically it’s to protect the employee so that they still have a job to come back to.

  • JD January 22, 2019, 9:09 am

    I think, with a boss like that, they wouldn’t have had to fire me. I would have left, had there been almost any other job available.
    No way am I missing a special church service to go help a grown woman figure out a personal problem on a holiday. I would have simply ignored that request and never answered. So what if it got you fired? You got fired anyway, just a little later. I think staceyizme is right — this sounds like it was a legal issue.

    • Kitty January 23, 2019, 6:35 am

      I admit, that line confused me. OP was out to do an errand for a neighbor, then ‘her daughter’ calls with a problem. I wasn’t sure if OP meant the neighbor’s daughter or their boss’.

  • Sarugani January 22, 2019, 9:41 am

    I used to have a boss who thought he was a dentist… „you don’t need to go to your dentist, just because your provisional crown fell off!“ Actually, yes, I‘ve had trouble with my teeth for years due to grinding them in my sleep and my dentist had told me to come see her immediately if something happened.
    That same boss also gave me quite unreasonable work hours (not the number of hours, but the times) when my co-worker quit and told me he couldn’t employ someone new, because there was no money and I should come up with a plan. The plan I came up with several months later when my personal life had become quite non-existent due to the hours, was to quit as well… don’t know if he found money for someone new then.
    Mental and physical health are more important than a job where you’re not even appreciated.

  • Lerah99 January 22, 2019, 9:57 am

    Ah, the joys of working in a “right to work” state.

    Where companies can treat you terribly, fire you for any and no reason, but still demand employee “loyalty” and act like they deserve heroic acts out of their employees as if we should be grateful for the opportunity to be so abused in return for the bare minimum to keep a roof overhead and food in the belly.

    My friend worked for a property & casualty insurance company in 2004 when multiple hurricanes hit the USA. People where hourly employees, there was no overtime allowed, but if you didn’t process all the claims in time you’d be fired for cause. And if you put in for the overtime needed to actually complete the job you’d be fired for unauthorized overtime.

    Yes, everyone knew it was illegal of the company to treat them that way, but people have kids to feed and bills to pay and need their job and insurance.

    So people were working 14-16 hour days to get all the claims processed in time but only putting in for 8 hours on their time card.

    As you can imagine, this really hurt morale. So upper management decided that the answer was to declare every Friday “potluck day”.

    That’s right, employees already working incredibly long days for no extra pay while being told if they fell behind on the thousands of claims flooding in for hurricane damage they’d be fired, were expected to find time to either hit the supermarket or whip up a dish in their kitchen to bring to work every Friday.

    After the first one where there were LOTS of bags of chips and little in the way of main dishes, a new email went out stating every employee needed to make more of an effort. So the next potluck was to be “homemade dishes” only. No more bags of chips.

    As you can imagine, this whole thing didn’t really provide the morale boost senior leadership wanted.

    After a few weeks, an email went out with voting buttons asking if people wanted to continue with Potluck Fridays. Overwhelmingly the people voted for no more potlucks.

    In retaliation, the local VP sent out an email stating that the Christmas party was cancelled since it seemed people in the office weren’t interested in “socializing together”. Best part? The Christmas Party was employee funded. People opted in at the beginning of each year to have $2 a paycheck taken out to fund the Christmas Party. And only people who opted in got to go to the party. None of that money was returned to the employees when the party was cancelled. AND the $2 a paycheck kept coming out for the rest of the year. HR claimed they had no way to stop the deduction mid year and senior leadership would use that money for some unspecified employee enrichment activity in the future.

    As you can imagine, a LOT of employees put out resumes and found jobs with new companies that year. In response, company wide emails started going out talking about loyalty and how all them employees are a big family, and loyal people don’t bail on family during tough times.

    It’s amazing the amount of loyalty and dedication companies expect when we all know that at any moment they’ll happily layoff thousands of people and insist “It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.”

    • rindlrad January 22, 2019, 2:50 pm

      Lerah99, I’m going to respectfully disagree with your claim that OP’s problems had anything to do with being in a “right to work” state. Just as an aside, lack of right to work laws will not guarantee a great employer. I currently live in WA state – not a right to work state – and I’ve had great employers and one really terrible job that I was soooooo happy to leave I went straight to a bar on my last day and bought a round for everybody there to celebrate (Ok, it was like 2:00 PM on a Wed, so there were only four other people in the bar. Still, it counts!).

      IMO, OP’s problem is putting up with an unacceptable work situation and not going out and finding another job. Now, perhaps there were extenuating circumstances that OP does not mention that made it difficult to look for another job – family obligations, no car, lack of skills, etc. However, I do know that in the US employment is “at will.” You are only “stuck” in an awful job with an awful boss if you allow it. It may mean obtaining more skills, longer commute, obtaining a car, moving, etc., but you do have the power to change your situation.

      Also, agree with the poster who pointed out that there are laws regarding payment of paychecks. Your employer is NOT allowed to leave you dangling and wondering when your next paycheck is coming. In my book, failure to pay an employee the agreed upon wage in a timely manner is the moment to say bye-bye. You can visit the Federal government’s and your state’s Department of Labor websites. They have all kinds of information regarding your rights as a worker and what labor laws your employer is required to observe.

      • Lerah99 January 22, 2019, 4:17 pm

        Yes, there are laws.
        But lots of people don’t have the time or money to hire a labor attorney. And it can be very difficult to prove your side.

        Where you live can make a huge difference as well.
        I live in the suburbs of a large city (large enough to have a Pro Football, Pro Hokey, and Pro Baseball team). If my employer goes full darkside, I can probably find another job within a few months that will pay close to what I’m making now.

        My friend, I call her April, lives in rural CT where the main employers are the local Walmart and the Grocery Store Chain (I don’t remember which one).

        Her husband works a tech job from home. When he was laid off 2 years ago, it took 10 months of intense job hunting to find a new job, in his field, that paid only 70% of what he was previously making. They were terrified they were going to lose their house and end up camping out in a family member’s living room on an air mattress before the new job came through.

        When people are living under those conditions “It’s illegal” doesn’t mean it’s WORTH it to report their employer to the state Labor board while risking their jobs. If they’re living in a part of the country where new employment, paying a living wage, is incredibly difficult to come by then people will put up with a lot of bad behavior so they can keep putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.

        • rindlrad January 23, 2019, 3:31 pm

          Agreed, where you live can and does often make a difference as to your choices when it comes to employment. That’s why I pointed out that you may need to be willing to move to find a job that better fits your needs or escape a bad situation at work (horrible boss, bad hours, bad pay, etc.). Living in a right to work state does not guarantee that you can live where you want to live and have the ideal job you want. I’ve walked the walk on this one.
          My family moved out of a town we loved, where we had friends and family, to a city where we didn’t know a soul because that’s where the jobs were.

          Also, you don’t need to hire an attorney to enforce labor laws. The government is very interested in employers who are not following the law. Visit your state’s Department of Labor website. I would be very surprised if there was not a place to report your employer for labor law violations – my state’s site does. In addition, you can report your employer to your state’s Attorney General. On the Federal side, you can visit the Department of Labor website, select the type of violation / law you are concerned about, and a link will take you to the site of the agency responsible. The agency website will have a link that allows you to file a charge or claim.

      • LizaJane January 22, 2019, 7:46 pm

        Lerah99, I totally understand having to pay the bills, but your friend’s dilemma could have been solved much sooner with a confidential call to the state and federal labor boards. Hourly employees being forced to work off the clock is against the law everywhere. Businesses can and have been shut down immediately for this pending investigation…and labor board investigations are brutal.

    • Bea January 22, 2019, 3:36 pm

      “Right to work” means you can’t be forced to join a union.

      You mean “At-Will” state, which means you can be fired for any reason under the sun, with the exception of recognized discrimination and employment laws currently enacted.

      There are horrid wretched employers out there and they will abuse their employees left and right without doing anything necessarily illegal. It has nothing to do with “right to work” or “at will” employment, it’s because vile soul sucking creatures exist and we cannot do anything unless they’re caught breaking laws. They’re banking on manipulating others into accepting it because their circumstances mean they have to work to live. It’s heartbreaking but this is not a law issue, even with employment contracts, which is the flip side of “at will” would mean that you have to make people follow the contracts. Good luck with that [my parents are unionized, they have collective bargain agreements that they’ve seen dismissed many times, only when someone stands up and demands their rights, do they get them.]

      It’s the cruel world we live in, the meek are trampled on while the boors find some creative ways to do the stomping.

      Many employers however are good at their core and I’ve had the blessing of working with many in my career.

  • Queen of Putrescence January 22, 2019, 10:03 am

    My father-in-law died on a Thursday night unexpectedly. My husband obviously did not go to work the next day. The funeral was Saturday because my in laws aren’t fans of embalming (so the burial has to be within so many days of passing away). My husband didn’t get any bereavement leave (worked for city government) because the funeral was held on Saturday.

    • A.J. January 28, 2019, 3:42 pm

      Yeah, where I work, we get one day off for the funeral for bereavement leave. That’s it. If your spouse/kid/parent dies, you’ll just have to take vacation time to plan the funeral/mourn.

  • Kitty January 22, 2019, 10:42 am

    In regard to her calling you at home, while you are off sick, in pain and/or hopped up on painkillers, just tell her that you aren’t getting paid right now, so you won’t work. And it’s better she not ask you any questions, as in your current state, you might not be fully capable of giving sensible answers.
    Probably said in a very slurring, incoherent way, depending on the painkillers.

    Have to say, good riddance of getting out of the environment of such a terrible boss. Here’s hoping your next job will be better.

  • DGS January 22, 2019, 10:53 am

    The boss is horrible, and what others have said is accurate – this may be more of a legal issue to take up with a labor attorney, as the behavior seems outrageous in its cruelty and ridiculousness. That being said, why did the OP put up with this kind of treatment for so long? Between the family emergencies, it would have been appropriate to begin to look for other employment. The OP sounds like a resourceful and resilient individual. She does not have to put up with this and surely can find gainful employment in an infinitely more positive setting!

  • Catherine St Clair January 22, 2019, 2:26 pm

    I know exactly how you felt. If it helps, the school system is no better; and it is run by people who have no idea of what they are doing, but want to tell you how to do your job and then blame you when they make a mess of things. I was transferred from one site to another by my principal. I found he and the former guidance counselor had been giving five high school credits for any adult student who wrote a paper on, ” The Evil Influences that Led Me to Drop Out of High School”. He demanded that I do the same. Neither he nor I had the right to give credits for writing a paper. He was replaced by another totally incompetent principal who would only work with “his people”. I was not one of “his people”. I was saved by my age. I turned 62 and retired.

  • kingsrings January 22, 2019, 3:31 pm

    Also, most employers only cover bereavement leave for immediate family only. Parents, siblings, maybe grandparents. This is very off-putting to those who are very close to non-immediate family members. And a lot of people are raised by aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

    • LizaJane January 22, 2019, 7:53 pm

      True. My employer actually re-wrote their policy to allow for a situation where, say, an aunt was the mother figure. However, if this allowance was used, the employee couldn’t have the benefit again when the actual mother died.

      The sad truth is, there will always be someone who will push everything to the limit.

      • EchoGirl January 24, 2019, 2:43 am

        Even if that’s true, I still feel like the solution is “deal with the cases of people taking advantage directly” rather than creating a bunch of restrictions that end up penalizing innocent workers. There will always be people trying to find a way to take advantage of the system, but “tightening up the rules” overwhelmingly hurts people who use the system honestly.

  • Bea January 22, 2019, 3:42 pm

    I cannot believe you had to put up with all that torment for fifteen years! It breaks my heart that you couldn’t find it in yourself to know you deserve better and there are other employers out there. Granted, perhaps you’re in a such a community it was the only place you can find a job, I know that especially during the late 2000s, with the recession, moving jobs was pretty much impossible for many of us. However now, in this recovering economy, this kind of nonsense is so much easier to remedy by getting yourself out of there.

    It breaks my heart, you now have this tarnished view of work place norms, you were in a toxic minefield for a decade and a half! What a nightmare. I hope that you were able to recover.

    This kind of place can also be detrimental to your health. Which makes it even more sick how she played doctor with your medical issues.

  • Sunnydi January 22, 2019, 3:47 pm

    What a horrible person! Certainly not a good leader. And, sadly, there are lots of them out there. Several years ago I began to miscarry early on in my pregnancy. I ended up having to leave work and then take a few days off to recover. When I returned, an HR person, not my immediate boss, but above me, wasn’t going to approve my time off and told me to schedule my emergencies next time!! I was in tears after just losing my baby and also being hormonal. Gee, I’ll be sure and schedule my miscarriages next time. Thankfully, my boss was amazing and went and told the HR person where they could stick it. He also demanded I get paid in full and not use my sick time due to all the additional stress the HR person caused me. The company approved it! This was a large multinational company and I’m in a right to work state. Not sure how that would work in a small company. Glad OP has a better job now.

  • LizaJane January 22, 2019, 7:55 pm

    True. My employer actually re-wrote their policy to allow for a situation where, say, an aunt was the mother figure. However, if this allowance was used, the employee couldn’t have the benefit again when the actual mother died.

    The sad truth is, there will always be someone who will push everything to the limit.

    • Teapot January 23, 2019, 2:38 pm

      Years ago, a young woman was hired in my office. New employees get two weeks of vacation once they pass their provisional period, which for her was three months. She blew through that pretty fast. The next thing you know, she calls in and says that her grandmother had died. Our employer is quite generous. You get a full week for the death of a spouse, parent, sibling, child, parent-in-law or grandparent. You can take all of it at once, or a few days and then use the remainder to meet with a lawyer, etc. She took the full week. A few months later, she called in again. Her grandmother died. She takes a week off. A while later, she calls AGAIN to say that her grandmother died. Her supervisor doesn’t want to be offensive, maybe one of her parents had divorced and remarried and this was actually a step-grandmother. But when her FOURTH grandmother died, she was told to bring in an obituary that listed her by name as a survivor. Funny, she quit shortly after that.

      • EchoGirl January 24, 2019, 2:50 am

        Anyone else here familiar with MASH? Because this reminds me of a scene…

  • LIvvy17 January 23, 2019, 8:09 am

    OP should talk to a labor attorney, she might be able to sue for age discrimination or disability, and/or other wage and hour violations. (If OP was an hourly employee, did the employer pay her for her time to answer those calls and texts? I’m thinking no….but those are compensable work time under the law.) Sounds like the employer fired her for becoming sick, then replaced her with a younger worker. Since she’s already been fired, she has a lot less to lose.

  • SolitaryBlue January 25, 2019, 5:14 pm

    Stories like this make me so, so happy to be self-employed now.
    OP, I’m so sorry that happened to you.

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