Last year on Labor Day weekend, I regaled you with tales of horrible bosses, just to make you glad you had Monday off.

It was so much fun, I can't resist revisiting the topic this year.

Once again, I am pulling these stories of worker woe from the AFL-CIO's community affiliate, Working America, which recently released the results of its annual "Bad Boss" contest. If you'd like to read the entries yourself, visit www.workingamerica.org/badboss.

This year's "People's Choice" grand-prize winner is "Thunderstruck" from Illinois, who worked for a private ambulance company. He writes about riding in a dilapidated ambulance, sometimes paired with ex-cons or an employee who was known for divulging intimate details of her personal life. He also faced a scary incident involving a choking infant that was made worse by a co-worker's lack of training — all too common among people hired by his boss.

Eventually, "Thunderstruck" was fired by his boss' sister, he wrote, because "he was too cowardly to face me. She told me it was because of an incident that took place months prior when I was dispatching."

Yikes! And I thought I had some bad bosses in my past.

I also was amazed by this year's "Most Outrageous Story" winner. Joan from Kansas wrote that she was an office manager and was asked to organize a company outing.

"I felt an evening at a major-league baseball game would be ideal for everyone," Joan wrote. "I set the date for about two months out, getting a reduction on tickets for a group, getting a set amount of cash to give each employee so they could purchase snacks, organized carpooling, handing out tickets, etc.

"The date arrived, and it rained! My boss informed me that I had picked that particular date because I knew it would rain! My title changed from manager to assistant manager, and I was given a small reduction in pay. A few months later, he asked if I would like to organize a picnic. I told him no. He then informed the board that I refused to organize an employee picnic!"

Now that is classic! Where do they find these people?

Another finalist in the contest worked as a property-tax assessor and gave an interview to a local newspaper about the fairness of the area's tax structure. His boss told the assessor that the article was unflattering to the boss and suggested that the assessor should not have told the truth.

"After firing me, he ordered a media smear campaign that ruined my professional career," the assessor wrote. "Under mounting taxpayer pressure, he finally had to resign. A jury and an appeals court later determined he had knowingly violated my First Amendment rights. That was nearly eight years later, and I had no chance of returning to my profession."

I don't think anyone should be fired for talking to a newspaper reporter. In fact, I think people should be given a promotion and raise for doing so! Then again, perhaps I'm biased.

Another finalist in the contest got in trouble with his boss for missing work to take his ailing wife to the emergency room.

And then there was the employee whose boss fired him by way of an answering-machine message left for the employee while he was on vacation.

Nice, eh?

I hope this either makes you feel better about your own situation or at least helps you realize that others out there feel your pain.

If you do have a "bad boss" story you'd like to share, drop me a line, and I'll pass it on in a future column.

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


E-mail: [email protected]