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Verbally abusive boss has caused me so much stress that I have been on sick leave for 3 months

by Anonymous
(New York)

I am in NY. My boss is also the owner of the small company I have been working with for just about a year.

He has been verbally abusive to me including yelling at me (with a red face) in front of my co-workers.

He is sarcastic and insulting to me.

He treats me like a defendant rather than an employee. He acts like he is trying to "catch" me in a lie but I have never done anything to warrant this.

He often poses questions which are actually designed so that he can attack after I respond. In other words, there are no correct answers. For example "Do you think you should have done that?"...either way I respond will lead to him yelling at me in a raised voice.

He ridicules my ideas.

He discusses me with another employee.

He shows outright favoritism toward another employee and will buy her lunch and pay for her car repairs. (we suspect hanky panky)

I became very ill with intestinal issues that eventually required surgery. My doctors feel that my work situation greatly aggravated my medical issues. I have been on disability for 3 months.

A week after my disability started I went on a pre-scheduled vacation. He has refused to pay my vacation pay for that week. He verbally promised me 2 weeks vacation when I was hired and had already paid me for the first week. He now denies that he ever agreed to vacation time. I do have a witness to that promise.

I found out that he has already cleaned out my desk. It's completely cleared of all files, personal items, etc.

He told a business contact that he planned to get rid of me and told him that he doesn't trust me. I brought many business contacts to aid his business and now he is ruining my good name.

I am cleared to return to work next week but I am having severe anxiety attacks whenever I think about it.

I feel that he plans to fire me but I do not want to subject myself to another round of
verbal abuse. I sent him a letter that said "I know you plan to terminate me and I accept the decision" and I included 2 pages of complaints about his behavior. He responded by sending an email that said "You are not terminated" and he is demanding that I report to his office next week. He said I must come alone and specifically said I cannot bring my husband. I had no plans to bring anyone but the guy is paranoid.

I am having trouble breathing right now at the very thought of going to his office. Do I have a case to get unemployment?

Hi Anonymous,

Yes probably so, but as I tell people all the time in your situation .. "what's going on extends beyond just a matter of whether you can get unemployment"

Your situation is one of workplace harassment. You need to be able to show it for harassment to avoid a finding you did not have good cause because you were being overly sensitive.

The fact that you are on disability now and under a doctor's care put's you into a protected class and you need to know this alone can be powerful stuff to know and use prior to becoming unemployed for purposes of unemployment benefits.

By the way, just because he told you that you should come alone really doesn't mean you need to come alone, if you want to bring a lawyer with you, or something like that.

Some of the things you've mentioned aren't a clear violation of any employee right, but personality flaws, but doesn't negate the fact he has authority over you as your boss and business owner.

So focus on specifics that a reasonable person would not consider reasonable.

If that means you need to do some research to you learn what your rights are and identify anything the employer may be doing wrong, then so be it.

Why do you think business owners employ HR professionals, but to keep them in legal compliance and avoid financial liability risks, at least when the employer is willing to listen to reason anyway.


Comments for Verbally abusive boss has caused me so much stress that I have been on sick leave for 3 months

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Apr 11, 2009
thank you..
by: Anonymous

I appreciate your reply. I did sign up for the course.

Since this guy is expecting me in his office in 5 days, I need answers quickly. I understand that not all of his behavior is "wrong" but I wanted to give a good picture of the overall situation.

Please tell me what you think I should be focusing on?

I think you should focus on the verbal abuse, and other behavior which could definitely be considered harassment and discrimination Including any threatening comments .. with regard to your job.

You said you have been advised by a doctor to quit. Get it in writing. See what other forms of written documentation you can wrangle up such as statements from co-workers who have witnessed the verbal abuse.

I think you need to start documenting everything that happens. I think you need to take control of the situation.

The fact that you have a doctor advising to leave the work is your strongest and best piece of documentation for unemployment purposes, but the harassment you described leads me to think you should have already filed a EEOC complaint.

Not sure if you will get the the email from the free course which addresses how to make yourself a part of a protected class in time, but if you use the contact form, I'll try to forward on what I've received. By the way, you probably already part of a protected class.

I have no doubt that you could make a case for good cause to quit due to intolerable working conditions .. I just think there is more you can do. If this boss is responsible for your health problems or is what aggravated your problems, ultimately, you should know what rights you do have and how to assert those rights so nothing or anyone can ever put you in this situation again.

Mar 01, 2010
by: Employer

Funny cause I've got an employee who is claiming harrassment for unemployment benefits after she quit for nothing. She just left work one day. I was Always kind , courtious , and respectful. In fact I went around to other employees asking if they had an argument with her before I called her house to find out if she was OK , and why she left. She said she was sick of things. I said , so you quitting ? Yep , she said. And hung up.

Later I get a letter from the unemployment agency ; after stating that she quit and hung up on me for no apparent reason , that she claims I refused to let her go to doctor visits and told her to F- off on numerous occassions. NOW I've got to testify over the phone about this.

I'm shocked , in disbelief ( since we always got alone fine ) , outraged , and concerned that someone would go to such lengths to discredit my character in order to get out of repaying money they have recieved from unemployment already.

Hi Employer,

Is Greta the one?

You know what Employer, I too know that there are a lot of strange individuals out there willing to lie to get unemployment. Some of them even ask me questions and lie to me and I answer them just as if they were telling me the truth .. because I'm not trying to judge whether they are telling me the truth .. I just think everyone need to know how unemployment works .. even employers.

Those with no compunctions about perjuring themselves at an unemployment hearing happen to sit on both sides of the table.

I know that, you know that .. everyone knows that.

If you think it's hard and difficult when an employee decides to lie through their teeth .. to discredit you imagine what it must be like for someone suffering at the hands of an unscrupulous employer.

I DO NOT believe that ALL employers are evil heartless monsters .. which is what employers always accuse me of .. I believe that an employer has resources in the form of a ton of weekly newsletters and websites offering employers all kinds of free advice .. and services including unemployment claims and hearings.

No one talks to employees though.

There's nothing funny about it when it happens to be true. Liars don't need my help .. they'd lie with or without it.

The only person to ask a question that made me see red .. was a manager who asked straight out .. how can I get myself fired so I can collect unemployment.

Seriously, you shouldn't have any trouble defeating a liar .. who never tried to preserve the employment .. because the burden to prove what she says is true .. belongs to her.

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