People Share The Moment They Decided Their Workplace Was Toxic

Just when you thought your job can’t be any harder

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Some people got the workplace of their dreams. Everything’s just right! Their bosses are nice, the environment is to their liking, and most of all, it’s healthy to work there. However, most people don’t have that luck. Here, Redditors have gathered to share the exact moment they learned just how toxic their workplace is, despite their best efforts!


#1 Keeping It In The Family

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I had a job where my girlfriend’s Mother was my boss, so I guess the moment I realized my workplace was toxic was when my girlfriend cheated on me and then my girlfriend’s Mom hired the guy she cheated on me with. In hindsight, probably more than just the workplace was toxic. —the-cschnepf

#2 What Goes Around Comes Around

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It wasn’t always. I was fortunate to have a boss who took his role as a mentor very seriously. He wanted us to learn, improve, etc. and he was kind about it. He’d reward good work, correct you when you made a mistake, yell at you/scold you only when you really deserved it, and would admit when HE made a mistake.

He retired and left the company in the hands of a dude who was an absolute jerk. Completely the opposite. He wouldn’t reward good work – if you did something that was 99% perfect, he’d scream and berate you for the 1% that wasn’t perfect. The last straw for me was the time I got a new file in, I spent weeks working it up, and prepared a comprehensive letter explaining everything that we were doing, what we planned to do in the future and offering a detailed analysis of the whole thing. The jerk yelled at me because HIS name should be on the signature line of that letter because “your only job is to make me look good!”

He yelled at me over a bill, misspelling my very simple name in a follow-up email. (I have one of those names that has a common spelling and an accepted, but slightly less common spelling like Steven/Stephen. He used the wrong one.) The next most senior partner reported that HE had put the objectionable items into the bill after I had prepared it. The jerk didn’t care.

I quit. A lot of other people quit. I heard a year later that, literally, everyone had quit. They hired new people, including the brother of the next most senior partner. They all quit in less than a year. He lost his biggest client. They had to give up the big suite of offices they built in 2012. Can’t say I’m sad to hear any of that. —Thirty_Helens_Agree

#3 Screaming Contest

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When our boss got into a screaming match with one of the managers (his daughter) in the middle of the office.

I’d just started there 3 weeks ago and it was absolutely mind-boggling to watch. I looked around at my coworkers and everyone was just looking away, doing their best to stay quiet and not look at either of them. The person at the desk next to mine saw my shocked face and whispered “they do this a lot. Just ignore it.” —thrown12212020

#4 Blue-Collar Mistreatment

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When the line “You’re only as good as your last mistake” popped into my head, and I realized that explained everything about how I was treated in that toxic office. It didn’t matter how many things I did well, or effectively; one mistake and that’s all anyone held on to.

Also, I was hazed my first year there, and when I tried to ask about addressing some of the office cultures the director shrugged and said: “That’s just the [name of college] way.” Yes. This was a very prestigious higher ed institution. —greenoakofenglish

#5 Stranger Danger

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We reached a point where we regularly had to wait to cash our paychecks. We basically were told we had to get orders completed and paid for, in order for the account to have enough money to pay us.

During this time, the boss went on a vacation which was just great for morale.

My manager had to take a day off, effectively putting me in charge for the day. I texted my manager, “What should I do if the IRS shows up? lol”. 2 hours later an IRS agent did stop in looking for my boss.

I found a new job not long after. —[deleted]

#6 Morally Wrong

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Mine was, and I’ve told this story a few times on here, but when after being upskirted at work (17F, the uniform was skirts, a kids/young people store) my (late 30s, male) manager bought me black lace underwear and gave them to me for Christmas. In front of the entire team. At the staff do. It was tongue in cheek, insinuating it’d give a future one ‘something to look at’. I remember feeling humiliated and sickened but having to try and save face. I felt like the incident was my fault.

After that, the “I love my job and team and am happy to work in this field and will do anything for them” shattered. My eyes opened to illegally long shifts, being underpaid, secretly getting us to cover whilst he pretended to be in and paid us cash-in-hand so the CEO wouldn’t find out, a “we only hire young pretty girls because it’s good to encourage shy kids or teens and add to the fun theme!” being far more nefarious and also morally corrupt. More completely inappropriate workplace things.

I’ve thought for five years about coming out and talking about the company. It’s somewhat well known in the UK. Past employees have said the same and many are still recovering from it years after leaving. But I’ve always been too afraid and I know too well that many people would still support despite things like this coming out. —playbypaper

#7 Not So Friendly

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My wife works at a deli that mostly employs people that are either in high school or older retired people that are just bored and want something to do. The disparity of maturity creates a lot of workplace drama. I kid you not, there is some 18-year-old girl who works there with her mother, and if you cross this chick she will tell her mom. My wife is also starting to get chewed out for things that her manager forgot to do like ordering food —jonahvsthewhale

#8 Thanks For Nothing

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When the union told me “These are solid proofs of harassment, but unfortunately the only way to win is to pay a lawyer and go on a trial against your bosses. And they are rich, well known and you are a foreigner. You have no chances and all I can advise you is to quit.” —Thorbork

#9 Bittersweet

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My realization came late.

I got laid off from a job with good pay and benefits, but I was dealing with long hours, high stress, a department with low morale, and a hands-off manager who seemed to care more about the company than me.

Even though the place was toxic, I was sad to leave. I’d been there for years, and the job was in a field I know a lot about.

A few days after the layoff, I attended an event not far from the building I worked in. When I saw the building, the first thought that popped into my head was, “I’m glad I don’t have to go back there tomorrow!”

Something somewhere, deep in my brain or my soul, had just told me that the job I’d just been fired from wasn’t for me. —RedditPrat

#10 Seconds Away From A Box Fight

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I had a job as an industrial engineer that I really liked for 6 years. The guy who made it toxic wasn’t even my boss. He was the operations manager of the building where I was domiciled, but I didn’t report to him. When he started, my boss told him I was there to help him out with anything he needed. Well, a couple weeks into him working there, “what he needed” was for me to cover a Sunday shift that started at 6 AM (the reason there was a need for a Sunday shift was because he attempted to handle almost twice the amount of volume that I told him was the max for a Saturday and it went as poorly as expected), and called at midnight to let me know. When I didn’t pick up because I was at my own engagement party, he went ahead and told his boss and my boss that I had agreed to come in at 6 the next morning.

It was one of the dumbest things I ever did when I actually cancelled all the plans I had with my family members who were in town and showed up. If I hadn’t, there would have been about 50 employees waiting in the parking lot because nobody else had the keys, and people would have been pissed at me, but oh well. At the time, my bosses were putting me on software development projects and working on transitioning me into a software dev role, but within 6 months, I was supervising the operation from 9 AM to 9 PM M-F and 6 PM to 6 AM Saturday nights and I had been pulled from all my software projects. I quit to take a software engineering bootcamp and now I am a software engineer. —ElToberino

#11 Low Empathy

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Worked in a psych hospital for a couple of years. This is a (paraphrased) conversation that one of our nurses had with the doctor about a patient that kept assaulting other patients and staff. The doctor only physically came to the facility two or three times a week. He literally did not give a hoot.

Nurse: “Hello, doctor? The incredibly violent patient that we’ve all been complaining about for weeks just sent two of our staff members to the hospital. Pretty sure one of them has a broken hip. Can you please discharge this guy so we can have the police pick him up?”

Doctor: “No. Just bring in more staff. If you call me and bother me about this again I will keep him in the facility even longer. And just for this phone call, I’m canceling my rounds for the day. You can now deal with ALL of the patients getting pissed off. Good luck, don’t bother me again.”

Nurse: “Cool. Thanks.”

We were not equipped or staffed to handle patients like this guy. He should never have been admitted to our facility. This one is just one such instance of this type of situation. The doctor would frequently admit patients like this that would stretch our staff to the absolute limit. The doctor knew and understood full well the impact it would have on the staff and he just. Did. Not. Care. —supahfligh

#12 Get Out

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A couple of female coworkers went to the HR manager to file a complaint about sexism in the workplace, related to the same guy. They got told by the HR manager and their boss that the company wasn’t gonna do anything about it, because it would be very hurtful for this man to hear that his behaviour was wrong…

Later when some anonymous survey showed that employees were really not as happy as they(company) were claiming on social media, and people even felt discriminated against in the workplace, they brushed it under the carpet saying people were just too stressed when they filled in the survey, like that is not a problem on its own.

Many more of these kinds of things, but that’s definitely when I realized I had to get out. —uselessacount4ever

#13 Horror Show

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When my partner was giving birth to our only child.

I had spent weeks preparing to be gone for two weeks to be with her during and after birth, held many meetings, cross-trained etc (I was a manager at a tech firm). I had accrued ample vacation time.

My 2nd day off my partner goes into labor and we go to the hospital. During labor the CEO called my cell repeatedly and I finally answered and told him my partner was in labor and I was on vacation. He totally ripped my head off and told me to open my computer and finish reports. These were reports that I had trained someone else to do, and actually others within the company were perfectly capable of doing.

Because we were broke (yes I was underpaid) I ended up doing reports in the hospital, took a short break during the birth, then went back to working until we were released. We had a couple of days with our newborn but then I had to go back to work because my phone was blowing up. That week I ended up working 6am to midnight some days getting everyone caught back up while my partner was at home recovering from delivery and learning how to be a mom.

Everything in me wanted to quit but I knew we needed the next paycheck and at that moment I could not fight a legal challenge with my employer. They had me right where they wanted and made my life hell while my child just coming into this world. —throw_away_TX

#14 Honorary Exit

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Well, I wouldn’t call it toxic exactly, everyone was polite enough, but I quit a job once when it became clear to me that the task at hand couldn’t be delivered on time, and my management rejected the three alternative plans I presented.

My immediate manager even told me words to the effect of “I agree that you’re right, but I can’t sell your plan to senior management”, so I told him “then there’s no point in me sticking around while this project craters”, and handed him my badge. —[deleted] 

#15 Red Flag

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When I was given a promotion without a raise, to a post that was not instead of but in addition to all my other tasks, and I already knew before I started it that there was zero chance I would be able to fulfill that new role at all because my manager would effectively block me at every turn. That role had already been held by a few other people for short periods time before they got fired, and I knew it was basically an ejecting seat.

I guess I should have twigged sooner because of the overall turnover rate of employees, and the astonishing number of rage quits. I’m just really, really optimistic when I probably shouldn’t be.

Heck, the employees warning me not to take the job the day of my first interview should have been a red flag, but I appear to be quite a dunce that way. —Flock_with_me

#16 Life Hack

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In college I had a part time job at a big retailer selling appliances. They would generally have a promo of either 0% financing or free delivery, one or the other but not both.

That being said, there was a workaround where we could still give people both, and multiple members of our management team told us that if that was the only way to get the sale to do it.

2 months later they fired half the department for doing what we were told to do. I quit right after that. —Marijuanavich

#17 Figure It Out

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I once got asked if I wanted a different position, away from coding, into project management. I said, okay, if you help me set it up and give some guidance. The next week I got a project, through a binder being placed on my desk and the words, this is your project, good luck. Before I could react, they were out the door. I had a hard time getting projects started, worked on common sense and some help from coworkers taking pity on me. I made a checklist for software deployments, for instance, but when I told in a rare department meeting that I made such a checklist, I was told sternly not to waste time on stuff I couldn’t charge customers with. After the confusing meeting, several coworkers asked me for a copy of the useful list… It still took me some 2 years of working 60+ hours a week, to make my way out the door. (And got a 65% raise starting the next job.) —gozba

#18 Crystal Clear Discrimination

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A male colleague was promoted above me. I was forced to attend a training he held that I had originally trained him how to do. My work wouldn’t make an exception for me, despite being the original department trainer. I was one of a couple females in my department and I never saw a promotion or raise, despite working there for five years. My male colleagues were typical stoners and got promotion/raises no problem. —emsquad

#19 Good Grammar

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Years ago, I had an IT job that required a review of the previous day’s notes, but you were publicly shamed for misspelling a word, poor grammar, took too long troubleshooting, didn’t ask enough questions, etc… etc… The day one of my friends quit because of an argument over grammar and management was happy for them to be gone really solidified that this might not be the place I wanted to work. I left not too long after that. Stress wasn’t worth it. —technicalpumpkinhead

#20 Calling In Sick

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In the middle of my evaluation, while being reprimanded for using my cellphone on the floor too much (my kid calls me a lot) – my supervisor excused herself cause her son was calling her cell phone….

I was also told in a different evaluation that I shouldn’t use my vacation time in the summer if ‘i know [kid] will likely be sick in the fall’ – I had called in 2 days in a row after he came down with pneumonia one year —figstea123

#21 Pandemic Problems

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When our regional manager went on multiple rants over various zoom calls about how grateful we all needed to be for head office keeping us on the payroll while the COVID shutdown was raging.

While I was grateful to have a job (many of my friends lost theirs), it was also insanely stressful as we all had much more work, with fewer resources and staff, trying to meet pre-COVID metrics, with many of us trying to juggle childcare while working from home.

She went on like our company was running some kind of charity keeping us employed while we were all burning out and working insane hours to stay afloat. —kor_hookmaster

#22 Chicken Run

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When they so clearly and blatantly stitched up the most honest, straightest guy because he was earning too much money. He was super efficient and really good at the job. Our team of 3 (field based) worked like clockwork, a well oiled machine where we were allowed to police ouselves for the most part. Management never really had any dealings with us other than to collect paperwork on a Thursday. Well they didn’t like the fact that this lad earned a couple of dollars an hour more than us due to an agreement he made with the previous company owner. Myself and the 3rd lad in the team didn’t know, nor did we care when it all came out. Well, the bosses decided J needed to go in order to save money. They faked a break in on his van, stole a bunch of stuff and disciplined him for leaving valuable equipment locked in his van. Then they tricked him into leaving his van at the office with the promise of installing a new alarm system. Instead they messed with the tracker, falsified the tracker printouts amd fired him for interfering with company property. It was as blatant as I’ve ever seen. More so because the lad they stitched up is the most honest person I’ve ever known. I once witnessed him buy a $1.30 washer in the suppliers for a small repair in his house rather than take one from his van stock. That’s the level of honesty I’m talking about. And we were meant to believe he interfered with his van tracker for absolutely no gain whatsoever. Myself and the 3rd guy on our team left a couple of months later and the company is now on it’s knees having gone through at least 20 replacements in the last 18 months. Whether it’s material, vehicles or staff, they always take the cheap option and never learn from their collossal screw ups which happen time and time again. —Interstate15

#23 Villain Origin Story

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When my boss sent me a Skype message asking why I wasn’t producing as much work as I normally do and that she knew I could do better. I was one of the best workers, never had negative feedback, and had always had great managers (bounced around to different offices) before her. I walked straight to her office and told her to please never talk to me that way again and explained that if she had looked closely at my numbers and compared them to my work schedule that morning (I arrived late) then she’d understand why I wasn’t producing as much.

From then on it got worse. I found out no one liked her. It all came to a blow when I wanted a new job and was being considered after nailing the interview. My stupid self used my boss as a reference thinking she’d tell the truth about how great of a worker I am but she gave me a bad reference and I was denied the job. I got a copy of what she wrote directly from her and she wrote I didn’t have much to say during meetings and that I used a lot of leave without pay (I was on FMLA for a short while and the LWOP was less than 2 weeks throughout the year) which gave the impression I don’t show for work much. I was so angry I contacted our regional director and had a 3 hour meeting with him and threatened a lawsuit. He said he’d help fix it by trying to get me into a better job in the agency and he agreed – what she did was untrue and wrong. I asked him to have my boss contact the HR manager of the job I was denied to explain that what she wrote was incorrect. And she did. I reapplied again for the job and was offered the position immediately without another interview. I started my new job back in April 2020 and just promoted in November. I’m so happy and relieved!! —ccoqui04

#24 Zero Common Sense

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When one of the female coworkers tried to accuse a male coworker of being sexist because he didn’t invite her to a bar after work. (For context, this was during the NBA Finals, and she openly talked about how she thought sports were sexist and that women were just as strong/fast as men). Also, the guy was married and everyone who was invited was already a relatively close friend).

What’s even crazier is that a few days later the female coworker threatened the male coworker by telling him that she was going to get her boyfriend to “teach him a lesson” (her boyfriend was a former college football player). The male coworker then reported her to management, but she was only given a “disciplinary warning” —Balls_of_Bumwill

#25 On Duty

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It was in the active duty navy. I quickly learned that my first 3 years onboard a ship were going to be hell when, as I was getting introduced to everyone, I was introduced to a guy in my division who was on restriction (he was going to be out-processed after) for attempted suicide. The person showing me around hinted that it was one of our chief petty officers who drove him to do it. sure enough got to meet the chief petty officer and the chief liked to play mind games, he got a kick out of making his junior sailors lives miserable. —rocket___goblin

#26 AWOL

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I was hired as a graphic designer for a printing company to work alongside my CD and one other designer. On my first day there, the other designer I was supposed to work with had no-call/no-showed. The CD said, “this isn’t like her at all and she’s never been late, but we’ll figure it out.”

Except she wasn’t just late, she never came in that day. It’s like she was working and just got up and left. Her personal belongings were still all over her desk, including a fresh box of snacks and photos of her family and bf. Since her computer was the only one working that day, I had to take over her desk. Since IT was also busy, they just let me use the missing designers’ login info. I’m pretty sure there were some files still open from the previous day.

After getting settled in and a brief tour of the run-down warehouse (or office, as they called it), I hopped on Facebook and typed in the missing designers’ name to see if I could find a way of contacting her since she wasn’t responding to any calls or texts. Not only did I find her profile, but she had made a post a few hours earlier saying she was finally free, she was so glad she escaped that hell and it was the best day of her life.

Even with the blatant red flag in my face, I stayed there for 6 more months and endured some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever dealt with in a work environment. —DJRonin

#27 Twisting The Plot

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Years ago I worked at a fast-food restaurant for the summer. My manager stole over $15,000 cash from the restaurant and then went on the run. Turns out he’d been dealing heroin on the side. Had the police show up a couple times asking if he had come by at all.

After that my assistant manager was fired and sent to rehab for stealing money out of the register to feed her drug problem.

My new boss had me spend half the time helping her to college work while manning the register/grill. She then tried to get me to have sex with her friend (who also worked there) despite the fact that I was dating a girl at the time. She kept pushing me about it and her friend kept making advances for a week.

We also had an overweight employee who loved to eat in the middle of our shift. The owners of the fast food place also owned the ice cream parlor next door and we could get free ice cream if we ask for the key. This girl felt she needed it so bad she actually broke into the office and stole the key. When I went with my boss to investigate we found her sitting on the floor of the parlor eating straight out of the bucket of ice cream like a child. She was fired on the spot.

On top of that our best cook may or may not have been illegal and when he was in a bad mood he would intentionally sabotage/mess with the orders (overcooked mozzarella sticks until they blew up, dropped food on the floor, etc.). He admitted to doing this often.

I worked there for about 2 months before I took a look at it as a whole and realized how insanely toxic it was. The final straw was when my manager tried to claim she already paid me when she clearly didn’t. I had to fight for my last paycheck before quitting. —HoyMinyoy

#28 Jack Of All Trades

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Long time ago, we had to process new hires. Everyone in leadership was male. Manager asked us to edit every single female internal CV to hide anything that could make them look “too smart” or “too dumb” to our parent company. So every female getting into the company just had an average CV. —Innohurrytodie

#29 Call Your Lawyer

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When my boss arrived at my doorstep trying to open my front door accusing me of lying about being sick and yelling that she will get a lawyer and find a way to fire me legally. I never went back. —Hand_of_bags

#30 Oompa Loompa

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Within the first hour of working there. I met my boss outside the building, I’m 6’0 my boss was 5’3. The little Oompa Loompa did not like having to look up at me while introducing himself, so during the introduction he walked up a hill outside The building to make himself taller than me. —Brassknuckletime


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