August 2, 2011
We’ve all said it at least once in our careers. “My boss is a jerk,” or “my boss is such a $#@!@!* Maybe he (or she) is just a jerk. Or maybe he (or she) is worse. And maybe you should be telling somebody about it. But why, you ask? The market is terrible! If I report the jerk, what good will that do? Won’t I just be bringing on trouble for myself?
It may be right to think, at least in the short term, that reporting a jerk of a boss may bring some problems. Once word gets out that you were the person to report your boss, you may get some flack from the boss or from his (or her) close allies. But you have to remember that there are laws out there designed to protect workers from being harassed just for reporting something their boss did. For example, the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, Florida’s Whistle-blower’s Act, and the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 all protect employees from being retaliated against for reporting something unlawful. That means your boss has no right to make your work life miserable just because you had the courage to report him.
This raises an important question–what kinds of things should you report? That your boss is cheating on his wife? It might be fun to do that, but the laws I just mentioned probably don’t protect you for reporting that. It’s probably better to stick to reporting things that are really important, like being harassed after you file a discrimination claim, a workplace safety claim, or a claim to get paid for all the overtime you’ve not been paid for.
As I mentioned, it might be easier to think, in the short term, that it’s better not to report your boss. But, in the long term, it’s probably better for you, and everyone else out there, if you do. After all, if you let your boss get away with whatever it is that he (or she) is doing, who else will stand up to him?