21

I work for a small firm here in Minnesota; only 30 people work there. Well, 27 men, 3 women. I[m a 37 year old guy, married, to my wife, 34, with a 14 year old daughter in highschool.

Our boss (a dude in his 50s) sent a circular email to all employees in the office (well, the guys only) asking them to send him selfies of themselves in their underwear, and that he wanted an "Underwear Friday" every week, where the guys walk around in their underwear (it applies only to the guys according to the email).

The email also asked the employees to take selfies of themselves sitting in their underwear on freeways as well (but isn't that illegal; well, sitting on the freeway part anyway?) and then post them on our firm's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It also asked some of the guys to walk around the office in a bikini. I found this weird and it crept me out.

Our firm deals in graphic design etc. and we have important clients visiting and meetings etc.

I confronted the boss on Friday in private after work, told him that this was inappropriate, he said:

I'm the boss. You're just gonna have to accept that you'll do what you don't want to at work. ven if it means being in just your pants. God, dude, feel the freedom of being in your pants. Every dude wants to do it, it's gonna be a hoooot!! Fuck it with your complaining, you don't stick it to the man here. Who do you think you are. George fucking Clooney? Give me a break. is your ego as big as your, you know what, your... aaaagh, yah know what I mean. Just show up in your pants next Friday from 9am or else you're not gonna be paid a cent. Got it? It's gonna be hot seeing employees in their pants.

BTW, the boss is married, met his wife and son once, they seemed like nice enough guys so why the hell is he doing this?

This is weird behavior. The boss is normally straight as an arrow and he now announces this?

He's got a reputation around the office as a "Mr. Tough Guy" and straight-talking, and this request is so left-field I don't know what the hell to do. I told him no, he refused to accept it.

I freelanced for 18 months before getting the job in March, before now there was no conflict, it was a good job, I've only been there nearly 4 months now.

Why would the boss do this? Is this something I could sue over? How should i deal with this?

BTW, aside from digital publishing, the boss has also asked me to do some email stuff for him (since I have IT and marketing skills), he occasionally asked me to check his email since he doesn't have time to respond to all of them. I noticed he'd sent an email to a certain female celebrity's management claiming one of the employees has cancer in order to get the celebrity to visit (the employee/my co-worker does not have cancer, he was in my local paper promoting some new community-related initiative a few months ago and was large as life. FFS, the co-worker is 21 and I know him from sports activities anyway!). The employee is a fan of that celebrity, he's seen her in concert, but nothing more than that.

Why would my boss do this and what should I do next? Do I need a lawyer? (and hopefully not a Saul Goodman-type one; started watching that on Netflix) Or what next?

I like where I work, have no issues with co-workers, but the issue with the boss is causing me so much stress I feel like I could explode.

Dealing with this conflict is causing me stress and my wife and daughter are noticing it and I haven't told them why, other than "work stress", partially out of embarrassment.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Jim G., Lilienthal, mxyzplk, Aaron Hall Jun 26 '16 at 14:09

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Real questions have answers. Rather than explaining why your situation is terrible, or why your boss/coworker makes you unhappy, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, click here." – gnat, Jim G., Lilienthal, mxyzplk, Aaron Hall
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 14
    Personally, I'd drop a note to the boss's wife, stating the facts and saying you're a bit concerned that he may need his meds adjusted... this sounds like mania to me. Of course if the boss hears about that you may lose your job, but it sounds like unless he gets some help don't want to stay there anyway. (I say this as someone on the other end of that axis.) – keshlam Jun 25 '16 at 20:52
  • 19
    I wonder if getting 27 lawsuits for sexual harrassment filed against you would be a record. Plus 3 women suing for discrimination :-) – gnasher729 Jun 25 '16 at 21:21
  • 42
    Sounds like he has a brain tumour [this comment is 100% serious]. – TheMathemagician Jun 25 '16 at 21:35
  • 29
    I found this weird and it crept me out. - Dude, I don't work for your company and it creeps me out. – casperOne Jun 26 '16 at 5:00
  • 34
    OP, please forgive me, but as I was reading this I couldn't help but consider the idea that this may be a troll post. The scenario just sounds so ridiculous. Now, I'm not calling you a troll, as I have no way of knowing. But assuming this is a true story, then as others have said: Send an anonymous message to his wife informing her of his behavior. Start searching for a new job asap. – Revetahw Jun 26 '16 at 5:51
42

"Just show up in your pants next Friday from 9am or else you're not gonna be paid a cent. Got it?"

Well, that's sexual harrassment, no doubt about that.

If you want to be nice, call his wife, tell her what is happening, and maybe she can get him under control. That would be the best possible outcome. The Mathemagician may be correct with his comment, that this could be a brain tumor or something similar that affects him mentally.

If not, well, I don't think you will be paid for long anyway, because the company will be gone soon. So start looking for a new job immediately. That has higher priority than any work for clients, for example.

There is no need to be stressing about this. There's nothing you can do about his antics, just ignore them. Accept that your job and the whole business may be gone soon because being mad is not good for any business, and take that as a base line. Should he do something stupid like not paying you, then it's time to get a lawyer, and as I said earlier, what he's doing is sexual harrassment with tons of witnesses.

PS. In the other case, that this is just an a**hole on a power trip, being obviously worried about his health and calling for psychiatric help would be deeply insulting to him, which would also be just exactly what you would want in that case.

  • 3
    Since I suspect the cause is medical I think talking to her should be the first thing. If she doesn't fix it then it's time to eject. – Loren Pechtel Jun 26 '16 at 5:33
36

In situations like this, I just assume the person is on drugs and I move on. This is out of control behaviour, waste of time trying to work out why.

Brush up your CV and start job hunting before someone goes off the deep end.

  • 7
    Boss of a graphic design company acting manic, sure sounds like white lines to me. – Carson63000 Jun 25 '16 at 23:31
  • 8
    "Move on, it's a waste of time trying to figure out why" takes being practical past the point of cynicism and laziness, in my opinion. As @TheMathemagician pointed out, this could easily be a brain tumor or the onset of some serious mental illness, especially if that person has never displayed this kind of behavior before. Reporting this to his wife specifically with the advice to get him medically checked out, is the right thing to do; not just packing your bags and moving on mercenary style. – jeremy radcliff Jun 26 '16 at 4:11
  • 10
    @Kilisi, This has nothing to do with being his mother. You would hope that we would strive to live in a society in which people give others the benefit of the doubt, whereby when someone starts acting completely out of character the first thing that comes to your mind isn't to choose between punching him in the face or abandoning ship, but instead to realize there might be something medically seriously wrong with him and at least try to get him some help. I'm not asking you to be his mother; letting his family know would already be a positive step. – jeremy radcliff Jun 26 '16 at 9:14
  • 7
    @Kilisi, I don't think you understand the definition of the word philosophy, and your point about being able to "afford it" makes no sense. Nothing is lost but a few minutes of your time and the upside is potentially huge (saving someone's life). I would think that someone working in your field would have at least a very basic understanding of the concept of expected value. The "value" in EV doesn't necessarily stand for money. But I guess I was right on the money (pun intended) about you when I said "moving on mercenary style". – jeremy radcliff Jun 26 '16 at 9:21
  • 11
    You don't take work issues to a persons family, that's just out of line, I have no idea why you think it's ok (or the other answers), and I'm not a doctor and nor is the OP. I'm not going to argue about it, because it makes no sense to me, and never will. – Kilisi Jun 26 '16 at 13:40
10

I don't know if it's worth trying to reason with someone this unreasonable but, if you do want to try talking to him again, don't do it alone in private. You and your co-workers should speak to him as a group to tell him that this is illegal and no one is going to walk around naked or send nude photos. He might back down when faced with the fact that he'd need to re-hire his entire staff* but you should be prepared for him to make good on his threat.

*This includes the women working there too. I can't imagine they want to see all of their male co-workers walking around nude either.

Since you mention lawyering up, I want to point out that:

All of the laws enforced by [the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], except for the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimination with us before you can file a job discrimination lawsuit against your employer. In addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person's identity. There are time limits for filing a charge.

https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm

If you do want to follow through on this (rather than just getting the heck out of Dodge) look into local discrimination laws and see if there are any local organizations that can help you.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.