You’ve probably heard crazy stories about toxic work environments, co-workers, and bosses. Perhaps you were the one telling the horror story. A toxic environment can take a mental toll on you and also have legitimate physical effects like sleeplessness, illness, and mood changes. Dealing with toxic places and people can create stress that has a lasting negative impact on the brain.
Many people offer to share their stories about what a horrible boss, job, or colleague did. A toxic work environment usually has red flags employees shouldn’t ignore. Read on to learn about some of the most horrific toxic people and places everyday people have experienced according to Reddit below.
30. Being Forced To Stay Late
Have you ever had a job where you were required to work beyond your scheduled hours? Many people have experienced this at one point or another. At one burrito chain, an employee experienced terrible management. The employee was never allowed to leave on time and was even punished if they pointed out their shift was over. Management would require another task such as sweeping the floor before they left.
To make the situation even worse and more dramatic, since directors would require you to stay late to do extra tasks, they would inevitably be over on their hours. It shouldn’t be any shock, but management would then complain they were over hours. To counteract being over hours, they would send employees home early only to cause a staff shortage then! Leadership was never satisfied. After forcing them to be short-staffed, there were negative comments about what took them so long to complete the closing process. Can you imagine going in this negative circle over constantly being forced to stay but then being sent home early and being short-staffed?
Some companies schedule their employees for split shifts. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. One employee had been scheduled for a split shift for the morning shift and evening shifts with a half-hour break. Essentially, it was being done to avoid paying for their lunch break. The employee pointed out they were entitled to a lunch break. The manager was quick to suggest they were playing the system.
The company’s leadership was quick to schedule the split shift, which helped the company. On the other hand, they failed to consider that they still needed to adhere to laws about breaks while doing so. The employee tried to do the right thing and bring it to attention only for it to be twisted. They were accused of doing something wrong. To combat the toxic environment and supervisor, the employee just refused to clock out until they could leave.
There is a mixture of people and personalities at any job. Some of them will gel better than others. Restaurants are no exception. Imagine a co-worker nmed ‘Bob’ who would throw a fit when anything went wrong. He would raise his voice so loud that guests in the restaurant could hear the tantrum coming from the kitchen. His attitude and demeanor impacted others to where they might walk off the job in tears.
When this employee got into a confrontation with Bob, for the restaurant losing a $500 table, there was shouting. Bob got red in the face and started jabbing them in the forehead. Bob’s stating they would find out where the employee lived to ‘finish them off.’ The employee responded with his address. Eventually, Bob’s wife, also an employee of the restaurant, came to defuse the situation. But the employee understandably quit the restaurant.
Donating plasma is similar to giving blood. The plasma is separated from the red blood cells and other components. This story is one where the term toxic is quite literal. In a plasma center, one employee experienced a dehumanizing work environment. The first few days of training set the tone. It was communicated that ‘we want you to be like a robot.’ That raised some immediate concerns.
The toxic environment didn’t end there. The horror story took a turn, and the toxic environment became quite literal. The plasma center did not want the employees changing gloves between plasma donors even if the gloves were covered with blood and plasma. The reason? Taking the time to change their gloves slowed down production. That aligned with wanting staff to be like robots. Not changing gloves between each donor is literally a toxic situation because of poor management.
The following horror story comes from a manager in IV pharmaceuticals. Several concerns indicated a toxic environment. The first had to do with the scheduling aspect, where there was no downtime allowed. It led to a negative impact on morale. Anytime anything went wrong, someone had to take the blame. Departments were constantly pointing fingers at one another. The departments didn’t collaborate and employees could feel the tension.
During the employee’s year and a half in management, there were meetings between every single shift. At every meeting, there was a Vice President called in to belittle the management team. It was a constant berating for not meeting shift goals. The VP part of the meeting would use profanity throughout the call until he was called out by Human Resources to stop. You can only imagine how morale was amongst the leadership team amidst pressure to meet the company’s unrealistic goals.
When you begin a new job, you naturally expect to be trained appropriately. You anticipate training that will prepare you for everything you need to know to do your job the right way. It always goes a lot smoother when you can comfortably ask questions and get answers. While that’s the goal, it isn’t always the case. One person shared their training nightmare. After just starting at a new company, the trainer kept giving incorrect or incomplete information that caused problems.
While it was difficult to prove it was intentional, the trainer would also get offended and weasel her way into the situation. The trainer even complained to their boss. The new employee had to run every document through her trainer even though the trainer was known for many errors. A couple of months after the new employee left, the company found out the trainer had been awarding grant money to programs that had never applied.
The following story had multiple examples of toxicity within a month of starting employment. It started because an absentee boss was constantly changing their schedule without letting the employee know. The boss would leave early and wouldn’t show up on the weekends. That made it impossible to have any sort of conversation. Next up was the interactions with with the employee’s trainer. There was a lack of help, and the trainer would even abandon the employee. The trainer would openly make comments like, ‘you need to do better, everything’s a mess.’
Not only were they left hanging by their boss, but their trainer as well. After sustaining a back injury, the trainer made a point to mock the employee’s limp. With the combination of the boss’s lack of communication and the overall unsupportive environment, there were too many toxic aspects of continuing working. It shouldn’t come as a surprise why someone would leave this environment.
Whether you work in a restaurant, hospital, manufacturing, or retail, being understaffed can be incredibly overwhelming. Working in tech support is no different. The following horror story is about a severe case of understaffing. Two employees were doing the work of at least eight. There were months where no one was allowed to take vacations. One co-worker had to reschedule her honeymoon despite it being approved six months in advance. If she didn’t reschedule, she risked being fired.
When it was broached to management, they tried to argue there was no need to add employees. People had to work weekends, work nights, and even work through lunch. In addition to working unrealistic hours, employees had to break company policies to do their work. The leadership team and company didn’t care to acknowledge the stress or working conditions. The long hours led to a negative effect on employees’ mental and physical wellbeing. Even after giving so much extra time, they were unable to use their paid time off even though it wasn’t paid upon leaving.
The following horror story stems from a marketing position at a UK-based company. The training was incredibly brief, but the basis of the job was that they had to carry a wooden sign around a supermarket. While there was no specific schedule, they would stay there as long as it took to reach their sales goals. At the end of the day, everyone would gather at the company’s offices. The manager would get everyone together to discuss the sales goals for the day and celebrate those who met them.
Everyone who reached their goals for the day would be able to ring a bell and receive a round of applause. What happened to those who did not reach their daily sales goals? The group would form a circle, and the person who did not meet their daily sales goals would have to stand in the middle and act like a chicken. That was used to show that the person had “chickened out.” To add an extra layer to this mess, if someone’s phone rang during the middle of the show, they would immediately have to do 10 pushups.
Without the proper training for a job, it can be complicated to meet expectations of your new position. The following horror story is one that occurs far too often. One Redditor revealed that after getting an administrative job at a real estate agency, there was zero training for the first two weeks. Due to the hiring, the trainer would be transitioning from a full-time to part-time status. It broke her heart.
Due to her dissatisfaction with how she would be personally impacted, she was doing everything possible to punish the new hire by not giving any training. Also, the co-founder of the company would ask the new hire to make him coffee. The other co-founder would notice that the new hire wasn’t at their desk and would call their internal phone demanding they return to the workstation. There was constant fear due to the need to run from the kitchen to their desk and vice versa.
When you’re an intern, you might feel like you are being used as someone’s assistant doing all the irrelevant tasks. It can feel like a thankless job that is a necessary step. There are many horror stories of interns who have been treated horribly by toxic bosses. One intern at a PR firm revealed on Reddit she was was forced to run her manager’s personal errands like picking up dry cleaning and being a private chauffeur to her and her friends. The tasks did not have anything to do with the actual job.
The manager refused to learn her name and would call her’ intern.’ On more than one occasion at the team building events, there would be alcohol served. Not only did the manager pressure the intern to drink, but she would also make fun of her when she didn’t give in. There were several inappropriate conversations. The manager would tell her intern at extreme lengths about her recent sexual exploits with a married real estate agent. When the intern was asked to stay on full-time, the combination of events forced her to decline.
A chain restaurant had a new general manager who will be called “Jim” for the purposes of this story. He was an extremely stern drill sergeant in the Marines at one point. The prior manager was incredibly laid back, and the majority of company rules were not strictly enforced under this previous leadership. The leadership under Jim was the opposite. He was a stickler for enforcing the rules. However, unlike the company’s rules that were written down, Jim’s were not. He had some personal rules.
Since Jim’s rules were not always clear to the staff, many mistakes were made. As they tried to understand the rules, the crew struggled to navigate what was expected of them. Unfortunately for the entire staff, Jim’s solution was not to correct the error, it was immediate termination. The group lived under a reign of fear for months. Employee turnover reached a whopping 200 percent. Eventually, Jim announced he was taking a job at another company. The team could finally breathe a sigh of relief and not live under constant fear for their job.
We all remember the days of free samples. Although things may look a lot different nowadays, there were many horror stories from these workers. Many don’t realize that those handing out samples work through a subsidiary company and not for Costco itself. It means they do not have the same protections as Costco workers. That proved incredibly challenging when working with some of the managers. One manager specifically would treat these individuals poorly because of this lack of protection.
The manager would constantly ‘berate, scream obscenities, and personal insults’ if even a minor mistake was made. Since these individuals were not actual Costco employees, they felt stuck. It was witnessed happening to multiple workers. It is normal to talk about someone’s job performance, but no one should be so fearful to make a small mistake. There was no reason to insult their character.
If you’ve ever worked in a sales environment, you know that it can be incredibly competitive and challenging. Car dealerships are one of the most demanding sales environments because vehicles are expensive purchases. This horror story comes from a saleswoman at a car dealership. This person was aware she was underperforming. But it wasn’t due to her abilities or experience, yet rather due to mismanagement. The managers were allowed to pick their favorites and give them internet leads rather than distribute them equally among the team.
Several other underperforming employees had been recently let go, so she was naturally worried about job security. At one meeting, the general manager announced in front of several individuals that she had nothing to worry about because he had hired her to ‘get people in the door.’ He blatantly stated that he didn’t care if she sold a single car but rather because people wanted to see a pretty girl when they walked in. Hie claimed, ‘don’t worry, sweetie; I will never fire you.’ It was an extremely toxic environment and left a gross feeling towards the general manager.
Many people pick up shifts at a restaurant during the summer or the weekends. The following toxic story stems from a restaurant. The first months working at the restaurant were wonderful. However, the long-time general manager retired and the owners brought in a new one. The new general manager had personal connections to the owners, so he felt he did not have to adhere to any rules.
He encouraged this employee to bully other employees who hadn’t been to college since the two of them had. He would invite his friends to eat for freet. In turn, it forced her to move reservations around. Rather than managing the shift, the new general manager would sit with his friends. He was incredibly selfish and misbehaved because he knew he had the owner’s protection.
One manager at a restaurant/bowling alley had a horrific experience with the owner. The owner would constantly talk negatively about one of the reception staff. He would even go as far as to speak to other business owners from around the area that the reception employee was ‘incompetent’ and had a disability.
The truth is that the employee did not have a disability, but instead, he was just an awkward person who did his job just fine. In fact, the manager had the same disability that the owner was gossiping about. After several times of telling the owner to stop talking about the reception employee, he revealed that he had the same disability. The reaction was not what was expected as the owner laughed in his face. The manager chose to turn in the keys on the spot and walk out.
Employees morale directly correlates to satisfaction and a company’s overall culture. The following story stems from a warehouse job. The employee described the warehouse as a giant mess. There was not enough room for people to do their jobs effectively. Morale was low. Nobody wanted to be there, and it was obvious. The company struggled to keep anyone there. The turnover rate was a maximum of two weeks.
After being employed for over two years and not missing a day of work, this employee made the same wage as temporary workers. Employees were expected to work 60-plus hours a week for months and were burnt out. The tipping point was when he came in at six in the morning and told his supervisor he had to leave by 5:30 pm. He didn’t take lunch. When 5:30 pm rolled around, he clocked out. The supervisor made it a big deal. With the lack understanding, the employee quit the toxic company.
For one individual working at a minimum-wage job, she was belittled, gossiped about, yelled at, and accused of stealing. The female co-workers felt the need to bully someone. Management knew about this and attempted to fix it. However, they refused to fire anyone.
The company hired a specialist to come in and try to teach people how to behave. This particular employee would cry every single morning before going into work because she was so scared to be bullied. The women in the office would yell at her before she left for the day. After three months, it became too much to handle and the employee quit only to find out that she was the fourth person in that position in a year.
Being gaslighted is a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator attempts to get someone to question their own reality or perceptions. In this particular scenario, co-workers were bullying one person who had been employed for two-and-a-half years. When the person attempted to report it, the manager’s response was, “you just got to understand they have a hard time accepting new people’ even though they had been there over two years.
Another typical response from the managers was, ‘well, they have to take their anger out on someone, don’t take it too personally.’ Like many others that deal with toxic environments, bosses, or co-workers, this individual would be upset coming into work most mornings. Many times, the thought of just leaving in the middle of the day crossed their mind. The toll that it took on their overall health led them to leave their position.
At one engineering company, there had been several rounds of layoffs. Employees were territorial and promotions were minimal. That led to people constantly looking over each other’s shoulders. Everything was fine until a project he worked on got some higher-ups’ attention. Very quickly after, the rest of the group went into attack mode. They all acted like it was their turn for success.
Every little mistake he made ended up in an email with every team member copied on. Every new idea was turned down, and whispers continued to mount. The last straw was when his co-workers sabotaged a project he was working on. He even overheard a colleague on the phone with the marketing department communicating how the numbers were not accurate. The next day, the marketing team put a stop to the project. This fight for promotions and sabotaging others’ work led to a highly hostile environment.
A luxury kitchen company needed a web developer to create an online store for them. Although the pay offered was much lower than what a web developer should be making, one individual was fresh out of college and needed experience. This worker thought this would be a great job for their resume. Things did not get off on the best foot. The boss could be heard screaming at factory workers. The original expectation was that this web developer would be solely making the website.
It was communicated that the rest of the staff would be giving them product photos, prices, shipping options, and banking options to incorporate into the site. That was inaccurate. This individual had to take pictures of every product, weigh them, set up bank accounts, and contact shipping suppliers, which caused tasks to take longer. The scale of responsibilities was not clear. Every week more work was added to an already overwhelming task list without a pay increase. There was an incredible amount of pressure to finish a massive project.
When one manager is standoffish, and the other is hands-on, it is challenging to balance the two. One manager handled the online store part of the business, and another manager ran the rest of the company. The one who ran the non-online aspect was incredibly hands-on and cared for the employees. On the other hand, the online manager would call her a ‘piece of garbage’ if he ever had to lift a finger to help with operations.
In addition to talking poorly about the other manager, he also spoke terribly about his employees, referring to them as ‘scum of the Earth.’ The entire factory crew sued him for emotional abuse. Every single crew member except for one quit. He had a tough time keeping staff due to his ineffective management style. His current screaming was toned down due to him being required to pay the factory crew for their damages.
Working IT at a grocery store’s regional corporate office proved to be an incredibly toxic environment for one worker. The analytical staff was tormented by senior management. For instance, the company brought in a marketing lead from an outside company, and within a week, she walked out, screaming, ‘you people are all nuts.’ There was little direction. IT was forced to ‘figure things out’ whenever the company wanted something new.
One example of this is when IT was ordered to figure out how to get QR codes with local farm info on the produce tags. The employee fixed the POS systems and scales. It became the top priority, so all other projects got pushed to the side. After putting forth all of the work into changing the process, someone in upper management decided that the QR codes did not look appealing, and months of work was scrapped. When employees brought forward concerns about raises, they were told they ‘shouldn’t value money over all else.’
Call centers can be full of challenges for employees. People utilizing call centers are not always in the best moods and frustrations can increase quickly as a result. While in training, some call center employees noticed the trainers and employees were dishonest with each other. One minute, the trainers were saying something bold and aspiring, and the next minute were unprofessional and contradicting what they just said. It was a red flag of a toxic workplace from the beginning.
During training, a trainer had talked down to them. After confronting the trainer about that, she proceeded to talk to them like they were a young child as a result. Senior management claimed it was ‘call center culture’ and to just ‘get used to it.’ If there were ever a question if an employee did something wrong, the manager would automatically side with the customer no matter the circumstances.
There are some companies or departments that have employees who have worked there for decades. They are comfortable in their positions. It means that sometimes there can be some reluctance to accept a new employee who is part of a younger generation and may have new ideas and suggestions. This story of a toxic workplace comes from a marketing and communications department where the employee was younger. This department was largely made of females within a few years of retirement.
The environment was established and an incredibly ‘catty, behind-the-back drama that was something you never wanted to get dragged into. The amount of chatter amongst co-workers was too much to handle.’ This particular employee ended up quitting after about a year-and-a-half. In conjunction with gossip, the manager was beginning to take credit for her work. The manager was promoted right before she left based on a project that she had led. This combination of toxic situations is too much for anyone to handle.
Your boss should be someone that you feel comfortable going to when you have concerns or need help. Employees rightfully do not anticipate that their leader would be the one to publicly haze or humiliate them. One employee had a boss who would choose one person to treat like a hero and another person to pick on. The one picked on was someone who was said not to be doing anything right.
No one knew before the gathering who was going to be the one being hazed. It created a tremendous amount of anxiety leading up to the meeting. To make it worse, you felt even more guilty if you were the one chosen to receive praise for the week. There wasn’t always much support for why someone was selected for either reason. You can only imagine the anxiety that caused.
Some bosses are viewed as mentors while others are seen as monsters. One writer who worked for a travel website reported that her manager was awful. Her manager engaged in ‘emotional warfare’ to pit co-workers against each other. She required this employee to go on business trips because she hated being alone and would get drunk most of the time. This woman would be left doing all of the work since her manager was unable to. To top things off, the manager would yell at her that she wasn’t any fun because she refused to get drunk.
She stuck around because she loved her job, and the position aside from her manager was perfect. The salary was competitive and her co-workers were incredible to work with. However, dealing with the manager was incredibly difficult. The manager was extremely manipulative and would taunt her when she didn’t give in to the peer pressure. Many people are put into these situations where they love the job, but sometimes the boss is too much.
The next story is about an office manager for a farm. Their boss was a 27-year-old woman who owned the farm. Because she was the office manager, it would be safe to assume that she would therefore be doing office tasks. However, you might be shocked to learn that she was not allowed to do any office work without the owner because the owner did not like her handwriting. Instead of handling the office responsibilities, she was required to do physical labor around the farm.
These activities included cleaning horse stalls in her office clothes and taking care of animals. As the office manager, she began her day at 9:00 a.m. The farm owner would not get out of bed until after 11:00 am. There would be days when the office manager worked until 2:00 pm and the owner would not get out of bed due to extreme laziness. The only reason she knew this was due to her apartment being located within the barn. Along with having to clean numerous horse stalls, the office manager would have to clean the owner’s apartment.
Although not everything will always go as planned at work, it is expected that it will be handled appropriately. That’s not always the case either. One employee’s prior boss had a serious temper problem to the point that her staff was scared of her. There was a bathroom at their store that the manager liked to keep to herself. She even went as far as to have a sign to close it off, saying it was broken so others wouldn’t use it. One day there was a customer who asked if she could use the bathroom.
Knowing how her boss was, she was fully prepared to tell her no. The customer pointed out that she was pregnant and had to go badly. Her boss wasn’t in yet, so she let the customer use the bathroom. As soon as the customer walked out of the bathroom, the boss arrived. The boss found out who had allowed the customer to use the restroom and screamed in a store full of customers. Later that day, the boss ‘accidentally’ threw something away and had her jump in the dumpster to get it. That was the tipping point for humiliation and she quit that week.
We’ve all worked for or heard of the boss that loves to micromanage their staff. They have to be kept in the loop about every detail. One employee had an crazy, micromanaging boss who was also paranoid. Before any staff meeting with the company’s VP, she would hold a pre-meeting where she would distinguish what her employees could share and what they shouldn’t share. If something unexpected came up during the meetings, she would kick her employees under the table.
Another example was when she assigned a PR event to an employee to plan and coordinate. After everything was set, she changed all of the decisions due to her paranoia. If the event was unsuccessful or there were issues, she would blame the person she had initially placed in charge of the event even though she made adjustments. Her paranoia resulted in complaints to HR as she felt her staff was against her. She would seek ways to force them to leave or look for a single event to fire them. The modern workplace is changing, and these toxic acts won’t be tolerated as a result. Keep reading to learn how millennials have changed today’s modern workplace.