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You are Here: Home > Workplace > Bad Boss in the Workplace

Bad Boss

Working for a bad boss can be a nightmare; but, unfortunately for his or her victims, being a bad boss in and of itself is not against the law.

For example, there are no employee rights provisions in Federal employment or labor laws regarding a "bad boss" per se, that make it illegal. In fact, there is no Federal law that makes it illegal to be bad boss, at least not directly.

In other words (and as ridiculous as it might sound), your bad boss generally has the right to be a jerk in the legal sense, for as long as he or she doesn't break an existing law while in the act; subsequently, there are few places for you to turn for relief, outside of the company for which you work or the associated union.

However, if your bad boss seriously harms you by breaking an existing law, then that's another matter; your employee rights entitle you to seek relief through outside legal action, especially if following a company or union grievance procedure didn't adequately provide relief.* For example, if your bad boss:

Not all forms of what employees deem to be "harassment" or "discrimination" are illegal. So, it's important to note that a discrimination law will help you to gain relief from your bad boss only if you can prove that his or her workplace bullying is based on a protected characteristic, such as your age, race, gender or religion.

Did you know?A better bad boss law, so to speak, might soon come to your rescue if the Workplace Bullying Institute succeeds on behalf of bullied employees. The advocacy group is lobbying the states to pass its proposed Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB), which entitles victim employees to sue health-harming bad bosses and other workplace bullies. It also compels employers to prevent and correct workplace bullying.

The relevant laws prohibit your bad boss from retaliating against you for taking a legal action indicated above. If he or she does so anyway, then you may take further action and seek additional relief through the enforcing government agency or a lawsuit. Consult an attorney about filing a lawsuit.

If your bad boss doesn't do you the favor of breaking a law so you can take legal action, or if following a grievance procedure fails to improve his or her behavior, then it's not likely that the jerk will turn into a tolerable boss on his or her own, much less a great one. So, short of quitting for a better job, it's up to you and your coworkers to figure out how to deal with him or her.

There are a variety of "bad boss" resources on the Web that might help you and your coworkers actively deal with the situation or at least passively cope with it. Some even suggest social and psychological tactics for changing a bad boss into a better one.

To find Web resources, just type bad boss into the search window of any popular search engine, such as Google (displayed below). If that's not as fruitful as you'd like, try common variations such as:

• bully boss
• rotten boss

• crummy boss
• difficult boss

• rude boss
• boss from hell

• work bully
• workplace bully

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* You'll likely have a stronger legal case if you first followed a company or union grievance procedure that failed to remedy the situation. Consult an attorney or contact the enforcing government agency for legal advice about this.

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