Did you hear the one about the boss who threw away the paperwork when his cancer-stricken employee put in for disability benefits?

Or the help desk staff member who had to keep answering phones despite a fire in the building?

If not, do yourself a favor and go online to www.workingamerica.org/badboss/.

What you will find there will help you celebrate Labor Day weekend.

Once you get to the Web site, you can read entries from the second annual "My Bad Boss" contest, which was sponsored by AFL-CIO's Working America, the union's 1.6 million-member community affiliate.

Not surprisingly, Working America received hundreds of entries for its contest. I didn't submit one, but I probably could have.

I remember one boss who took computers and other supplies that were supposed to go to our department and gave them to other departments to curry favor with their managers.

When we asked where our computers were, she acted as concerned and confused as we were. Only months later did we find out what happened, and when confronted with the issue, she acted as though she had done nothing wrong and tried to sabotage the careers of those who pursued the matter.

But that's nothing compared to the winning entries from the Working America contest. Pete of Illinois was the winner of the "Peoples' Choice" award, receiving 1,276 votes for his tale, which started when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Pete has three children under the age of 8 and a wife who also cannot work.

Pete's bad boss reared his ugly head when Pete tried to sign up for disability benefits.

"My boss threw away the paperwork I sent in and then lied about ever receiving it, knowing that filing a complaint for the time I should have received would take months if not years to resolve," Pete wrote. "It's hard enough just trying to stay alive, let alone trying to pull (knives) out of not only my back, but the backs of my wife and children, too."

The "Most Outrageous Story" award went to an author identified as "Steaming Mad," who was a member of the help desk staff at a plant that caught fire.

"Since the company had decided they could not do without a help desk during emergency situations, a contingency plan was developed to move the employees to another building on campus and set up the help desk there. Little did I know exactly what the contingency plan called for," this person wrote.

When the fire started, the writer's supervisor explained the rest of the plan.

"One person was to leave the area every five minutes until the last person was left," Steaming Mad wrote. "We were to leave the office in order of seniority. ... I was the least senior. And with (nine) people, I could not leave for 45 minutes even though smoke was filling the room.

"In my last five minutes prior to leaving, coughing and tearing and still answering the help desk phone, a security officer entered the office and yelled at me to leave the area. I explained why I was still there, but he told me to leave immediately."

Now that's an impressive example of bad bossing.

Then there's the story submitted by a worker in Maine. While she was working as a waitress, her boss hired a man who had been stalking her.

And had that man bus tables during her shift.

And apparently thought the situation was funny.


The moral of all of these stories is, no matter how bad your boss is, someone else probably has an experience worse than yours.

If that's not the case, you may want to start polishing your prose for next year's "My Bad Boss" contest. Or better yet, send your tales of bad boss-ness to me, and I'll share a few of them in a future column.

Of course, if you have a financial question, I'd like to hear that, too. Send it to [email protected] or to the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.

E-mail: [email protected]