Toxic workplaces can be a warehouse full of bullies
Toxic workplaces are a not uncommon experience for many workers. And like most of us, there’s a good chance that you’ve probably worked in one. Whether it’s a cut-throat office environment. A warehouse full of bullies. Or a restaurant where you’re regularly sworn at and expected to work overtime with no pay, toxic workplaces are no laughing matter. In fact, research by the University of South Australia reveals that toxic workplaces can increase the risk of depression by 300 per cent – a staggering and very sobering statistic.10 toxic workplaces that will shock you is important reading.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most egregious examples of toxic workplaces from across the globe. And while many of these examples are worrying, you’ll surely get a laugh or two out of the pure absurdity that some employers expect their workers to put up with.
Boss expects team to work 12-hour days, take calls at midnight…and set up Tinder dates
You may have worked in a toxic workplace before, where you’re pushed to the edge by suffocating micromanagement. But as bad as that is, has your boss ever made you set up Tinder dates for them? That’s what one employee, who detailed their toxic workplace experience on Reddit, was forced to do. This was in addition to enduring a range of mistreatment the saw the employee suffer panic attacks. They feared if they did not do the employers bidding they would be dismissed.
“It was really, really, really bad, the employee says. “I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person I was before starting my last job.” The employee describes how their boss classified her team as contractors so as to avoid paying taxes or benefits. Team members were required to work 12-hour days with no overtime pay and forced to endure unreasonable working hours. “There were literally no boundaries,” says the employee. “Texts and calls around midnight were the norm.”
Then on top of all this, this boss from hell treated all her employees as her personal assistants. “She asked me discipline her youngest daughter about vaping, often had my other co-worker set up her Tinder dates and made us move her furniture out of her apartment after work,” says the employee, who also mentions that her boss was having an affair with two members of the company’s board.
The turnover rate in this toxic workplace, the employee says, was unsurprisingly high. And in the end, they were dismissed via text during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is this fair? No it is not. The mental health damage can be huge.
Toxic workplace encourages patrons to snitch on staff
Hospitality can be a tough industry sometimes – particularly bartending. And for the staff at one American bar, dealing with drunk, often obnoxious customers was just the half of it. They also had to deal with snitching customers. This was thanks to the bar’s attempt to outsource the disciplining of their staff to patrons, as revealed in the below sign. Some employers are always looking for reasons to potentially sack an employee.
In a toxic workplace, discussing your pay is not an option
If you’re not allowed to discuss your rate of pay with colleagues, it’s likely you’re in a toxic workplace. That’s what the below poster, seen at a popular fast-food chain in the US, seems to suggest.
The freedom to discuss how you’re being treated financially by your employer is the right of every employee. And if you’re told not to, it’s probably because your employer isn’t paying you or your colleagues properly. Or wants to play one employee off against another.
Say hello to the newest toxic workplace innovation – the sloped toilet
Toxic workplaces around the world are surely queuing up to install this amazing innovation into their staff toilets. UK company StandardToilet has developed a “sloped toilet” designed to keep employees from spending too much time on their dunny breaks. The seat on this toilet is sloped forward by 13 degrees, which StandardToilet, through its inspired research and development efforts, determined is the perfect angle to cause a strain on the legs, and therefore impel staff members to get back to work.
StandardToilet aims to sell their sloped toilets to corporate offices, claiming that it will lead to a 25% reduction of time employees spend on the loo. “It is estimated that in the United Kingdom alone, extended employee breaks costs industry and commerce an £4 billion per annum’, says Mahabir Gill from StandardToilet. “It is easy to see why our StandardToilet can be an asset to a business.”
For those suffering in toxic workplaces, the toilet cubicle is often considered a sacred place, a sanctuary even, where one can simply take a load off. But with the so called innovative sloped toilet, even that seems under threat.
Why stand up for your rights when you can play video games?
In 2019, US airline Delta stirred outrage after it created a series of controversial anti-union posters directed at its employees. The posters are an example of how toxic workplace cultures can be driven from the top down, with the intention of curbing the rights of employees. They urged Delta employees not to unionize, and that instead of paying union fees, they can spend that money on much more important things. Like video games or attending sports events.
“Tickets and food to a baseball game aren’t cheap. That $700 in union dues you’d be paying every year could sure go a long way,” reads one of the posters. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) shared the posters on Twitter, shaming Delta for its actions.
“Insulting. Without an IAM contract, many Delta workers have to work 2-3 jobs just to survive. They have no time to play games,” the union tweeted. Even 2020 US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders slammed Delta online, taking to Twitter to say that the airline were “a disgrace.”
Can you please be at work before you even wake up?
Some toxic workplaces are so toxic that bosses think changing staff rosters at 3:30 in the morning is ok. That’s what happened to this American employee, who was dismissed by his boss for not showing up to work at 9AM. As you can see, the employee clearly hadn’t woken up until around 10AM. And frighteningly, this sort of last-minute, wee-hours-of-the-morning rescheduling is legal in the US. The US Department of Labor states that the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t have any provisions regarding the scheduling of employees, aside from certain child labour provisions.
This means that US employers can change an employee’s working hours without providing them with notice. Nor must they ask for the employee’s consent. It’s stories like this that make us in Australia thank the heavens for our much more robust worker protections.
No, you’re not allowed to hydrate on the job
Access to food and water are of course the most fundamental needs of any human being. But at this US grocery store chain, cashier staff aren’t even allowed to take a sip of water unless given permission by a medical professional.
The note was shared on Reddit by a former employee of the grocery store, who says that “everyone there who wasn’t at the bottom of the food chain was a total a**hole.” You can only imagine what other suspect practices take place in this very toxic workplace.
When you’re forced to work while mourning the death of your father
You know you’re in a toxic workplace when you’re not granted leave to mourn the death of your father. That’s what happened to this shift worker who posted this worrying text exchange with their boss on Reddit.
Like most of us would, the worker rightfully quit on the spot. But stories like this are unfortunately not uncommon. This Reddit post inspired many people to share tales of their insensitive bosses, including one person whose colleague was asked to finish their shift after they heard their mother had died.
“She literally got a call as she was working that her mother died in a car wreck that morning,” writes the person. “Manager literally told her that she needed to stay and finish her shift or be fired for negligence.”
We’ve all had that one boss who hates impromptu office visits
While this gentleman below is of course joking, part of him probably isn’t. 9there is no smile on his face). And I’m sure we’ve all had a boss that gives us this face when we approach them.
Getting sweet revenge on your toxic workplace
With all this talk of toxic workplaces, we’ll end this article with a bit of a feelgood story from Reddit. It involves a videographer who was making “just better than minimum wage” while creating “50 videos a day” for a major company. “It was an insane amount of work and however I managed to do it for 6 months is beyond me, especially for how sh**ty I was paid,” says the videographer.
This workplace was a truly toxic one, describes the videographer, where the company’s management would “purpolsely stir sh*t to watch staff fight as a form of entertainment.” Six months into his job, the videographer says that his videos were driving “insanely positive” sales for the company. And as such, he asked management for a raise.
He was promptly dismissed a few hours later. The reason? The videographer was told that he wasn’t “pulling [his] weight.” This is where this story turns into a good one. Newly unemployed, the videographer discovers a folder in his Google Drive account. He notices that it contains all the video files he and others in the company had created in the last three years. The videographer says that “over 18 people were actively using it daily.”
The cloud folder, however, was owned by him. The videographer was paying a monthly fee for the cloud storage, and he needed some extra space for his own work. So he downloaded all the files, then deleted the cloud folder. Because he owned the folder, the act wasn’t illegal. “Tomorrow they will wake up with none of their video assets (including things they were working on),” says the videographer. “F**k them.”
Have you been victim of a toxic workplace?
A toxic workplace can mean many things. Being bullied by your boss or co-workers. Experiencing sexual harassment – either verbal or physical. Toxic work environments make employees feel punished, rejected, guilty, defensive and humiliated. Employees find it difficult to work in this environment because of appalling conduct from management, co-workers and contractors. (which the employer did nothing about). Common behaviors include bullying, yelling, manipulating, isolating, and belittling. Employees are nervous to speak their minds, raise concerns or share thoughts because they are worried about being rejected, reprimanded or terminated.
A toxic workplace can also lead to unethical behavior such as racism, lying or making false promises. Being forced to work overtime without pay. Or being denied basic workplace rights. If you’ve experienced any of this kind of mistreatment, A Whole New Approach can help. (we are not lawyers). We’re Australia’s leading workplace representatives and commentors with over twenty years’ experience helping workers across the country stand up for their rights.
We’re experts in lodging Fair Work Commission claims and can help you understand if you can seek redress for what you’ve experienced. all unfair dismissal, general protections, workplace investigations, serious misconduct, anything to do with the workplace. We are here for you.
Call us today on 1800 333 666 for a free and confidential conversation.