13 Employees Share Their Experiences with the Worst Bosses They’ve Ever Had

Dealing with a toxic boss can be one of the most challenging experiences in your professional life. The stress, anxiety, and frustration caused by a hostile work environment often lead employees to leave their jobs for the sake of their mental health. For many, getting a new job is like a dream come true, a fresh start with new opportunities. However, this optimism can quickly fade when the reality of a toxic work culture sets in. The resulting stress can be overwhelming and lead many to prioritize their well-being over their paycheck.

Stories shared by employees on Reddit offer a sobering look at the reality of working under toxic bosses. These stories reveal the lengths to which some bosses will go to undermine, diminish, and exploit their employees. From unreasonable demands and public humiliation to blatant favoritism and outright threats, these reports highlight the serious impact toxic leadership can have on employees’ lives. Despite the challenges, many of these individuals found the strength to leave their toxic environment and often found better opportunities and healthier working conditions elsewhere.

Have you ever encountered a toxic boss? If not, count yourself lucky. Many people who are employed suffer in silence because of toxic and mean bosses, and some end up quitting because of their mental health.

Getting a new job is one of the best things. But many realize it’s not all rosy until they find themselves in a toxic environment. That’s when anxiety and stress set in, and many choose peace of mind over money. These employees shared their worst stories on Reddit about working for toxic bosses. Some who couldn’t stand them and got fired; others just quit! Let’s see what they had to say. Comments have been edited for grammar and clarity.

1. I left with a better job
A man walking on the streets. | Source: Pexels

u/invisible_23: I used to work for this guy at the ice cream shop. He kept cutting my hours for arbitrary reasons, so I found another job and gave two weeks’ notice. Halfway through my two-week notice I got the flu and tried to call. The guy told me he was going to fire me if I didn’t go to work. So I showed up and he told me I wasn’t

“cheerful enough” for customers. So I looked at him, didn’t say anything, grabbed my bag, and walked out the door. At this point, he was following me and threatening to call my new job and tell them I was a terrible employee. I called my new job to let them know. They said: We don’t care, you’re hired. Feel better, I’ll see you on Monday.”

2. Denying a promotion led to a workplace nightmareA person saying no with a sign. | Source: Pexels

u/norcat: When I was still a retail employee in college, I worked at a gift shop that was run by an owner and a manager. The owner was more hands-off and occasionally came in to handle the cash and paperwork while the manager dealt with more of the operations/personnel side of things.

The owner loved me because I was young, a quick learner, and only spoke up when something was wrong. The manager who hired me also loved me because even though she sometimes saw me wasting time, I still got things done in less time than other employees.

Anyway, the manager who hired me left and the owner asked me if I wanted to take the position. I declined because I was going to school and I wouldn’t make a career out of retail. So the owner hired another manager. I think a colleague must have told her that I was asked to fill the position before it was accepted, so my existence threatened her.

Even after all the talk about how I didn’t want to be a manager, she did little nitpicky things to make me look bad. It was no skin off the back. I did as told and ignored her as she berated me in front of the customers. co-workers. etc.

The only time she wasn’t annoying was when the owner was around. Then she developed some kind of inferiority complex about her lack of post-secondary education and started making snide remarks about how spoiled, entitled, and ignorant college students are.

Still skinless until she scheduled my shift one day when I booked her in for trials. I didn’t show up and she called in the middle of my exam) to tell me that I was fired for not showing up.

The owner tried to fix it and asked me to come back and I told her that since summer was coming up anyway it would be best if I explored other opportunities related to my degree.

3. From a non-supporter Workplace for better pay

A woman holding money and smiling. | Source: Pexels

u/ArrenPawk: My girlfriend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in January. Her maternity leave ended in April, so we were tasked with figuring out what to do with the work schedule and babysitting.

I asked my bosses if it was possible for me to work from home two days a week. I was a lyricist; I could work as long as I had a computer.

They said no and offered no other alternative, assuming that letting me work from home would set a bad precedent for the rest of the company.

The graphic designer in our team worked full-time from home. And if that wasn’t enough, one of the sales staff recently moved across the country to Wisconsin and was allowed to telecommute from there.

I quit my job and quit a job that pays $10k

more, she has full, paid benefits, and more importantly, a boss who knows what she’s doing.

4. My Toxic Boss put my work ahead of my health

A man siting in his office. | Source: Pexels

u/CrabFarts: My boss yelled at me repeatedly for over an hour. He wanted me to gather information, some online, but we had a dial-up connection and I wasn’t allowed to tie up a single phone line.

I also couldn’t work from home (where we had regular internet access) because the company didn’t trust employees to work from home.

On my last day (though I didn’t know it when I walked in that day) I had an appointment with a doctor I emailed him about but he claimed he never got around to it. He wrote me an email about a meeting that morning, which I never received.

So when I got there after the meeting, I could tell he was upset, which is usually a good sign to stay out of his way. We ended up having one last all-out argument when he obviously couldn’t hold back any longer.

At the end of the argument, he fired me. I have never been happier than in my current job.

5. Violent boss

An angry business man crumpling documents. | Source: Pexels

u/ eyesdown: My boss had a young labrador that he kept locked up in a flat above the pub for 23 hours a day and let him roam the garden and inside the pub after hours.

He once cut his tail badly and instead of calling an emergency vet, he smeared the wound with white paint to stop the bleeding. He never walked, exercised, or gave toys to play with.

He aggressively backed my little sister up against the wall while he was working there as a waitress to yell at her for giving too generous portions of cheese on a cheese board that he refused to show her how to put together.

He had a relationship with a cook and was violent towards her, once breaking her wrist in a fight in the kitchen and stealing her purse so she couldn’t get home. She finally took the bag back and drove off with one hand, running over his leg as he tried to stop her.

6. This one took advantage of young girls

A man and a young woman reading a book. | Source: Pexels

u/calepto: | A few years ago he worked in retail under horrible supervision. He constantly hit on young girls and treated young boys like absolute crap when he saw them as a threat to his “game”.

I remember walking back to the project from the bathroom and only stopping for two minutes to chat with a girl I was friends with. As I went upstairs he yelled, “Is this the bathroom?

No? I didn’t think so.” He stared at me until I left.

7. Surviving unfair treatment

A sad employee siting in an office. | Source: Pexels

u/kotaacub: First, I’d like to preface this by saying that I work for a small but well-known after-school care program. We have a total of nine employees and everyone is calm.

I was hired at 16 and my boss seemed very cool except that I have autism and a seizure disorder and I didn’t like being in places where there was a lot of yelling.

I worked there for two and a half years with no problems, except for the guy repeatedly telling me I wasn’t suited for the job and should find another one, constantly favoring his male co-workers over his female coworkers.

(There was another member of staff who had Tourette’s syndrome. He had to take breaks when he wanted for as long as he wanted, whereas I had to fight for a five-minute break after I had a seizure)

Anyway, they hired me to work in the cafeteria for the summer and this guy started walking around with a megaphone and yelling into it to make the kids scream because he knew I couldn’t handle loud noises.

I was also required to move the equipment myself; even our stronger members could only move with help. I got a message when I had a crash or asked for help moving a device.

Also, after he quit suddenly and we got our great new boss, we found out he refused to let anyone go. When she came to him to give him her two-week notice, he did not accept it, telling her that if she left he would talk her out to anyone who called him.

8. She was friendly to others and mean to me

A stressed woman covering her face. | Source: Pexels

u/sowhatsoplenty: I got a job bartending at a restaurant a few years ago. I started my first day and met a new guy who was also accepted. I got there and they sent me upstairs to work as a waitress.

I had never served before; I signed up to be a bartender. The new guy has never worked behind the bar and has experience waiting but was told to go behind the bar.

There are two managers; the one who hired me wasn’t there so I asked the other one. He tells me that the girls work as waitresses and the boys as bartenders.

I was a little annoyed but figured the other manager would fix it when he was there (he wasn’t)! Anyway, I learned that waitressing is not for me.

I’m terrible at it! The manager was so frustrated with me that it made me even more upset and worse at my job because she kept yelling at me over her shoulder.

Meanwhile, the guy at the bar who has never poured a pint before is left alone making mistakes and she yells at him too. One night he was alone and a group came and asked for a mojito. They hadn’t taught him how to make them and he had no clue how to drink, so I jumped on the bar and helped him.

As I help him, the manager notices me behind the bar, loses the plot, and starts yelling at me in front of everyone; it’s humiliating.

What was worse was that everyone else who worked there loved her and she invited everyone to parties in front of me and was nice to everyone. I was fired by a manager I never met because of feedback from a female manager.

9. Worst boss ever

Angry Boss | Shutterstock

Deleted User: My co-worker Mary always worked 15-30 extra hours a month which made everyone’s life easier. She is the kindest soul, a true angel. Her drive? He supported her three children after her husband left her.

Yesterday she was late for work for the first time in years… by two whole hours! Her eyes were red, she looked broken (she had clearly cried all night). Our whole office was comforting her and then our boss John walked in.

John: “HOW CAN YOU BE TWO HOURS LATE?! I’M GIVING YOU A WARNING! ONE MORE TIME AND YOU’RE FIRED!” The whole office was in shock! Such injustice!

But then Mary stands up and says to John:

“HOW DARE YOU KNOW PERFECTLY WELL I AM LATE BECAUSE YOU have abandoned me and our children and offered no help.

I have to take them to school, wash, clean, and cook all by myself! I am forced to work more just to make ends meet. (We were all shocked. No one had any idea that John was her ex-husband who left her.)

10. A confused and inappropriate boss

A woman staring at her laptop. | Source: Pexels

u/[deleted]: I had a boss who kept giving wildly contradictory instructions. St. everyone does something the first way; then she would get mad and tell us to do it differently.

She insisted we ask if we had any and then got angry when we did. Then we would get instructions from the managers above her to do something new and she would instruct us to do the exact opposite.

That was until her managers told her we were doing it wrong, so she yelled at us for doing something and asked us to redo it the original way.

Then every Friday she would give us an hour-long speech about what a terrible job we were all doing and then fire people until she found the team she wanted.

She followed that up with how much she loves and respects us. We found out the following Monday that she fired ten people over the weekend.

It took two months before she was removed from the project by her superiors, who realized that she was not suitable for the position.

11. Unsympathetic Subervisor

A man typing on his laptop. | Source: Pexels

u/[deleted]: One of the many was when I informed my supervisor that I had received word that my grandfather had passed away that morning. For months, I told my supervisor about my grandfather’s health.

So the news of his death shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I asked for a few days off to help prepare and be with my family. My supervisor says

“Why? They’re not burying him tomorrow.”

I replied, “It doesn’t matter if he is buried tomorrow or not, my family needs me.”

Fortunately, I’m no longer in that job. I’ve had other terrible supervisors from different jobs, but this one still sticks.

12. Fighting bias with an enemy boss

Two men having a meeting. | Source: Pexels

u/[deleted]: I worked at a scout camp a few years ago and had a director who had it in for me from day one. The first day he told me to put my stuff in a cabin that didn’t exist and then yelled at me when I wasn’t unpacked an hour later.

Later that summer, he decided he wasn’t happy with my ability to run, so he woke me up before dawn, sent me to a mile-long parking lot, and told me to start running laps and just stop when he told me to.

He stayed about twenty minutes, told me if I stopped by while he was gone I would get the record, and then left for breakfast.

I struggled up and down that hill for three hours and was relieved of the dangerous punishment only after one of my other principals pulled up in his truck and asked why I wasn’t in my program area.

Later that summer he wrote to me that I was groggy and unenthusiastic at breakfast, and then again a week later that I had “left camp without signing out” even though I had been in my cabin all night.

And then, at the end of the summer, he decided he never wanted to see my face again and tried to blacklist me for allegedly smoking pot on the reservation, even though I spent the entire night in my cabin reading a book.

When he was sent to run another camp and my blacklist was mysteriously lifted. The guy never got a word of reprimand for it and I swear if I ever see him in public I’ll smack him in the back of the head.

13. Karma Hits Back

Angry Boss | Shutterstock

Deleted User: So, I’m 66 and I’ve been with this company for 30 years. Then I got really sick. Boss: “Prove you’re sick.” I am sending him my diagnosis and medical report.

Boss: “YOU ARE LYING! Run to the office immediately.” Me: “I can’t, the doctor advised me to rest and stay at home.” Boss: “Then you’re fired. Come back later to sign the termination papers.”

Me: “But I’m only 5 months away from retirement, don’t do that!” Boss: “It doesn’t matter, you’re fired. Come and sign the termination letter.”

Me: “Hmm.. Ok.. Wait… Be ready.” 5 days later I woke up to 30 missed calls from my boss. I’m calling back. Boss (panicked): “TAKE IT BACK, OUR COMPANY NEVER DID THIS!!!!” he laughed and said, “Oops… looks like someone anonymously sent a letter to the police with all the evidence of your questionable actions.” …”

Boss: “TAKE IT BACK! NOW!!!” Me:

“No way! I should have thought twice before he treated me like that!” Ten days later, the boss was fired, I was reinstated, and all my colleagues kept their jobs. KARMA IS BACK!

BONUS. Chief perfectionist

A woman in a teal green blazer paying attention during a meeting. | Source: Pexels

u/speechlesspoetry: I worked as a receptionist for a few months and when one thing in the entire lobby was out of place, my boss yelled at me.

She did this repeatedly and I never understood why. Sometimes when things were out of place in the hall I didn’t have the strength to get up and fix it and she kept saying I was wasting money.

One week I grabbed chairs and intentionally messed them up, knocked over trash cans with a small amount of trash, and so on. I got $80 less that week.

She did this repeatedly and I never understood why. Sometimes when things were out of place in the hall I didn’t have the strength to get up and fix it and she kept saying I was wasting money.

One week I grabbed chairs and intentionally messed them up, knocked over trash cans with a small amount of trash, and so on. I got $80 less that week.

I checked all my checks and realized that the more messed up the lobby was, the less I got paid. I confronted her about it once and she refunded my money. She was so petty and rude.

Regardless of our ranks, every person should be treated with respect. Plus, treating someone badly won’t make you feel better. Either way, a toxic work environment only reduces employee productivity and performance, which equates to low company revenue. But a healthy workplace means happy employees, happy customers, and better business.

These stories of employees dealing with toxic bosses highlight the profound impact poor leadership can have on workers’ mental health, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. These experiences highlight the importance of a respectful and supportive work environment, from being forced to work while sick, and dealing with favoritism and unfair treatment, to enduring outright abuse and hostility.

A man and a woman staring at the laptop. | Source: Pexels

It’s clear that toxic workplaces don’t just harm employees; they also negatively affect the company’s productivity and income. When employees are stressed, anxious, or mistreated, their performance suffers and they are more likely to leave their jobs, increasing turnover and disrupting business operations. Conversely, a healthy and respectful workplace promotes happy employees who are more engaged, productive, and committed to their roles, which ultimately benefits the company’s bottom line.

Therefore, it is crucial that employers prioritize creating a positive work environment where all employees feel valued and respected. This means addressing issues of unfair treatment, providing needed support, and ensuring leaders are trained in effective and empathetic management practices. In this way, companies can cultivate a culture that not only attracts top talent but also retains them, leading to long-term success and a thriving business.

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