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Question: I’m an administrative assistant for an employment services firm. I do a lot of research, word processing, database management, phone reception and light bookkeeping. I’ve been with my present employer for about 18 months. My dilemma has been the verbal and emotional abuse that my boss constantly directs at me. It has been a very difficult position working in this type of environment — his dictatorship style of management, the constant calling me a liar and the fact that he says does not like the way women talk. He refuses to allow me to explain how and why I do things — it is his way or not at all. My 30+ years of administrative experience should be evidence that I am not stupid. I am willing to try, but I am not given the autonomy to do so. Do you have any advice for these issues? Any help I obtain would be worthwhile. This is a very upsetting situation and getting worse by the day.

Answer: First of all, let me just note that the examples you give of your boss’s behavior create the image of a “bully.” Clearly, he enjoys being in a position of power and treating his employees like “little people.” Beyond that, his harassing style seems to have created a work environment that meets the definition of what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) terms a “hostile work environment.” While his cavalier attitude suggests that he is not too concerned about this, the fact of the matter is that what he is doing is poor business practice. And he’s walking a fine line in terms of violating the law.

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Daniel A. Schroeder, Ph.D. is president of Brookfield based Organization Development Consultants Inc. ( He can be reached at 262-827-1901 or Read More »

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