HR Strange But True!
August 03, 2006

Loyal readers of HR Strange but True know that we occasionally devote this column to front-runners for the title, "The Boss from Hell." This week the shoe is on the other foot as we take aim at some of the truly abysmal employees out there.

In her "On Balance" blog on, Leslie Morgan Steiner recently solicited input for "the worst employees you've come across." She got the ball rolling with a pet peeve: Inappropriate workplace attire, with revealing clothing and flip-flops cited as two examples.

Steiner apparently struck a nerve, eliciting dozens of passionate postings. Many dealt with sexy or sloppy dress and bad personal hygiene, including overly long fingernails ("not to mention the crud that must live underneath").

"People who wear flip-flops to work are pig-slobs," wrote a poster identified as "Tom." "I don't want to see your hairy toe-knuckles or your toe jam. And it's work, not fun. Do you get up and go to 'fun' every day? Is Monday to Friday called the 'funweek' or the 'workweek'? Hows about you people stop acting like the world owes you a living and start being adults?"

"This summer my office has hired several teenage children of employees as interns," wrote "Kid Free in Alexandria." "They are doing an OK job from what I can tell, but the girls have all taken to wearing those low, wide-waistband, floaty-leg 'gaucho' pants that are always wedged up their butts and don't leave anything except the color of their skin to the imagination. I just can't believe their parents, who work in the same office, let them out like that!"

Not all of the submissions dealt with appropriate dress and hygiene. Others pertained to employees who try to run side businesses during work hours, take long lunch hours, take days off for supposed "funerals," and so on.

"I once had the misfortune to supervise a woman who felt compelled to send what she (wrongly) felt were uplifting e-mails to everyone at the firm," wrote "WMX." "She was actually the reason the 'NO EVERYONE E-MAILS' policy was created. The last straw was a message she sent encouraging all of us to get down on our knees to praise the Lord and drive out Satan from our hearts and minds. She was also the one who ended up trashed or crying at all firm events. After a holiday party, I had to order the car service for her because she was so wasted, and she threw up all over the backseat on the way home. The firm was presented with a bill for cleaning and disinfecting the upholstery. Lovely."

But at least one poster didn't get into the spirit: "Complaining about your fellow human beings is a sign of low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with life," wrote "preslopsky." "Focus on what you are doing. I have met people who caused me trouble, and I have caused a lot of trouble for people. It is not interesting to discuss."

We humbly disagree, preslopsky, so much so that we are inviting all of you to send us your horror stories about bad employees. If we get enough good ones, we'll include them in a future issue of HR Strange but True. Just send an e-mail to and indicate how you would like to be identified, if at all.


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