What constitutes cruelty at the office? Someone asked on Quora "What was the cruelest thing a company has ever done to you as an employee?"

You may be prepared for stories of confiscating passports or not wage theft, and those things are cruel. But the things people wrote about also sound a lot like what a lot of us face in the office. For example.

Not allow an employee to work from home.

Being allowed to work from home isn't a right. If there's a disability question it may be a reasonable accommodation, but otherwise, companies don't have to allow it. So, why was this cruel? As Laurie Bethard explained, someone else had done it, made a disaster of it, and so when she had a dying father and could have really used the benefit, her company said no.

This was cruel. Don't treat all employees the same, and while you may not be required by law to make an accommodation for something like this, you should, if at all possible.

Firing a cancer-stricken employee

Patrick Cady shared a story of how his mother's boss terminated her without explanation--just after she had taken time off for cancer treatments. And he didn't even have the guts to do it to her face--simply sent a letter.

While this story takes place in Canada, in the US, you better be awfully careful when doing that. Someone who goes out for cancer surgery and treatment is covered by FMLA. Not only would you be cruel to do this, you'd be (most likely) violating the law.

Boss dangles a carrot and then yanks it back

Your boss says, "you need to learn X so you can be promoted to this job." You learn X, and then the boss says, "Oh, wait, how about you should have learned Y!" Bridget Rhodes went through this.

She got the last laugh, as she used her new skills to a better job. But, she feels like her manager never expected her to gain the new skills and never intended to give her the new job. Don't lie to employees. It's cruel.

Coaxes you away from your current job, and then lays you off

Please, please, please come work for us! Oops, never mind. We're not going forward after all.  This is what happened to Ginger M. Volz. No severance, nothing.

The people you hire depend on you for a job. While employment in the US is almost always at will, it doesn't mean you get a clear conscience for pulling a trick like that. Someone leaving their job to join your company is not something you should take lightly.

What cruel things have you seen businesses do?

Published on: Jun 18, 2018