When the boss is a jerk

I lost a job I loved. A few weeks ago, a troubled client beat me up. I reported this to a co-worker (my boss was not in) and went to the doctor. I filed the necessary paperwork, but my boss, a lousy manager, never spoke to me about the attack. So, I started writing everything down, and I asked to speak to the director of our agency. He listened to my concerns about my boss and then told me that I needed to take a leave of absence or find another job.

After that, I kept a tape recorder on me to prove to him that my boss does not have a clue. Last week, I hid the recorder in the office and taped my boss telling two other employees that I was arrested for a lewd act and charged with a misdemeanor. I went home and cried. Two days later, I asked her why she talked about my past, since that event happened nearly two years ago. She said she can say whatever she wants. I said that on judgment day, she would have to answer for it. The next day, I was fired. I’ve had nothing but great performance reviews, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won’t help. What are the workplace laws?

I considered law school, but I would have studied constitutional law, and that would be little help to you. So, let’s focus on the assistance I can provide. It’s not a good idea to work for someone you believe is incompetent. It doesn’t even matter if he or she really is ineffectual. Once you lack respect for the person you report to, it’s very difficult to do a job professionally. That’s because every task they assign will be met with criticism in your mind, and those niggling thoughts infect your ability to accomplish the task at your highest level of competency. After a while, disrespect for your boss combined with awareness that you are not doing your best contributes to a low self-image in you. In other words, you harm yourself. So, when an employer suggests a leave of absence, ask for a paid one and take it. Use it to find another job or to create a step-by-step program to adjust your attitude and to brainstorm positive ways to solve workplace problems.

I know that you were suffering, but a tape recorder is not the best ally. It is illegal in most states to record people without their knowledge unless you are in law enforcement. It is always a good idea to hire a lawyer before taking such action.

I also understand that it was painful for your boss to discuss your personal history with other employees. Some of that pain may be from shame associated with the past. If so, a licensed psychotherapist can help you. It is vital to talk with one now for support through your transition into a new job.

I just wanted to respond to the wonderful advice you gave to “Almost perfect” (Ask Joey, July 14). I married a loving, gentle, kind, compassionate man who is very quiet and shy sometimes. I was hyperactive and social when we met. I became concerned that he wasn’t gregarious enough for me, but we have been together for the best 10 years of my life. He has taught me how to be quiet and calm and that I don’t always have to have a lot of people around me. Before I met him, I was not very selective regarding my friendships. Now I have relationships that are quality, not quantity. “Almost perfect” sounds like she has a good man who will love and respect her. I hope she gives him a chance and enjoys his quietness.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

Meditation of the Week

The French Film Festival at the Crest Theatre was <i>magnifique</i>! From the splashy opening night to the affable closing celebration, it was not to be missed. The films were skillfully chosen, artfully presented and thought-provoking. The festival’s founders want to grow the event into an international destination. Let’s help their dream come true. Lock July 2006 into your Palm Pilot now, and let’s ensure that every seat is sold out.