My boss is doing the unthinkable. Help!


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So you all know I work in the attendance office at a high school. There are two of us in our department. My supervisor, and myself (I am considered the assistant.) Our new boss this year, who is the assistant principal, has decided to make us call the parents/aunts/uncles/cousins/neighbors, etc of all the kids who are absent every single day, multiple times a day. For the past ten years my supervisor had only ran a report of kids who had multiple absences once a week, and we would have to call once a week. Now we are calling every single person on the emergency contact list several times until we get a reason for the child's absence.

I have a very bad phobia of talking to people on the phone. Ten years ago, at my last job, I had to talk all day long on the phone to people who received parking tickets. I was so anxious and had so many panic attacks at that job that I had a mental break down. I simple decided to stop coming to work without calling anybody. Multiple people from that job called me and said they were worried about me, please call to let them know I am okay, etc, and I simply ignored them. Finally after a week of not showing up, I was sent a letter from the company stating I was fired.

Flash forward ten years later and I'm headed to another mental breakdown. I hate my new boss. He came to this school and changed the entire attendance procedure. He is causing me an undue amount of stress. I am making approximately 50 calls a day. I can't even enjoy my weekends anymore because I am having panic attacks about going back to work on Monday. Well now he up and decided he no longer wants my supervisor to split up the calls half and half. He wants me to do ALL the calls for all the absences. I am already overwhelmed and stressed to the max. I can't handle 50 more calls!

My supervisor agrees with me. She says since 80 percent of the calls are to Spanish speaking people, and she speaks Spanish and I don't, it wouldn't make sense for me to call every single student's contact numbers. She is telling me my boss is probably going to call me into his office to give me the news soon. She is telling me to fight it. But my boss is relentless. When I tell him parents are complaining because I am calling everybody on the emergency contacts just to try and clear absences, he said he didn't care, and to keep calling regardless of all the complaints I'm getting.

This new boss of mine can go straight to you know where! I have been working here ten years and have never hated, loathed, despised, and detested this job the way I do since he started. I have gained 32 pounds in four months due to stress eating. I am now trying to lose the weight, but it's hard, when food is my greatest comfort at the moment. Anyway, please if you are the praying type of person, please pray my boss changes his mind about me doing all the calls. I am headed for another break down and I can't afford another trip to the mental hospital!

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Hi CB, I'm so sorry you are having a difficult time with your new boss. I understand you are feeling overwhelmed. I hope you will be able to work things out. I will keep you in my prayers.
Sending you all my positive energy, strength and ((HUGS))


Well-Known Member
CB...I do not ask this lightly as I know that it's hard to get jobs now and that you've been at the school for a long time. But have you thought of looking around? This does not sound like a good fit for you and getting mentally sick over it is not worth the money or benefits. If you look, you may be able to find something more suited to your personality.

Hugs and I'm so sorry you are having a hard time at this job. You certainly have my prayers.


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Are you in a unionized position? (here, all the school staff are unionized, not just teachers.) If you are, please lodge a protest with your union.


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CB he is deliberately harassing you. I agree with Insane, if there is a union ask your rep for help. A few months ago you had a thread where there was a discussion about benefits. If you have workers compensation you can file a claim. You are getting sick. It sounds like you are becoming physically ill, and this is exacerbating pre-existing conditions.

If you are mentally ill, you have protections under the ADA, Americans With Disabilities Act. You have done this job for 10 years, and done so satisfactorily. You must fight back. I would ask for an accommodation. I would go to my doctor and I would ask for specific accommodations to your work duties: This way there will be a record of his harassment and make him have to defend his actions.

He will not stop. He is stupid and he is a bully. You have to fight back. This will only get worse. You can see where this is going.

There are numerous kinds of accommodations you can request: you can google ADA protections and harassment of mentally ill. You can see what kinds of accommodations other people have asked for.

This sadist boss is assuming you will not fight back and he will force you out. He is assuming that you will not fight for yourself.

I cannot tell you what to do, but I would tell you what I would do. I would fight for myself.

There is no earthly way that a non-spanish speaking should be forced to call the 80 percent of parents who are spanish-speaking. I mean what are you supposed to say, after Hola?

I would use this thread to ask for other's input in making a plan. You cannot continue to permit that this man beat up on you. That is what I think.
He is causing me an undue amount of stress.
He is. Because he is picking on you and bullying you. That he is doing so, is illegal. You have protections under ADA. I would fight for myself.

To the extent that you keep allowing him to do this, you are buying in. Please do not. All of us care about you. We do not want you to have to go and hide.

If you make known what he is doing, there is a reasonable chance he will get in trouble. My sister bullied an employee of hers. She worked for a university. Unfortunately the employee she bullied filed a civil rights lawsuit. You could do the same thing. There are agencies you can find online that help disabled people who are harassed on the job. When my sister got herself in this mess, the university turned against her.

Let us all help make a plan. Your job right now is to go and find that other thread. There was a lot of good information on it.

None of this is your fault. Remember that. You are a wonderful person. But there are bad mean people in the workplace and the world. We need to fight for ourselves. Do that for us. We are standing right there beside you.



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After I requested a demotion (from manager to assistant manager) in order to move back home after my daughter was born, the district manager told my new manager to make me quit. She hassled me unmercifully, dumped three times as much work on me as on anyone else, wrote me up for breathing, stuff like that.

I had had enough, I was stressed and unhappy, and went to the doctor, stating I had job related stress and could not work in that store for that woman without making myself ill. The company ignored me. I filed a disability claim. I won. I received disability for more than six months, actually making more on disability than I did working, because the disability amount was based on my Bay Area manager's salary and not my Central CA assistant manager's salary.

I cooperated fully with disability, took all the tests, visited all the doctors/psychiatrists they wanted me to, and gradually was able to relax and feel human again. The terminology you use is very important. I never said I was unable to work, I emphasized that I was unable to work in that store for that woman.

Side note: I did get to see Karma in action. The company opened a huge, beautiful new store here in town, and because I was curious, I went to see it. The first person I saw, in an ugly little smock folding T-shirts, was that awful woman. She had been demoted to floor clerk. I, on the other hand, had returned to a company I had worked for previously, and was a district manager in charge of eleven stores. Yeah. It felt really good.

Anyway, CB, you need to document, document, document. Photocopies of your workload, written instructions from your boss, stuff like that. Talk to HR. Go to the doctor for additional documentation. If you do decide to go the disability route, having paperwork that shows you've tried self-advocating really helps.

Good luck.


Well-Known Member
Do you have unions in the US? Are you a member of one? My first thought would be to find out if there is a union and join it. If you are already a member of a union then contact them and inform them of what is going on.

In the UK this behaviour by your boss would be classed as Constructive Dismissal - i.e. creating a situation whereby your job became impossible for you to cope with leading to you leaving. If your work colleague speaks Spanish and you don't and your boss decides that you have to phone an extra 50 Spanish-speaking people in a day then that makes no sense and is totally ridiculous. You could take them to court and sue them.

In the UK, if there is a previous history of any physical or mental illness that could recur, that the employer is made aware of, then they should make sure that this is taken into consideration in your job role too.

Also, aren't there any laws over there about school absences? Are there any laws about phoning people repeatedly? Surely that's harassment. I would think it's only a matter of time before your boss faces some serious complaints.

What are labour laws like over there? Do you have a type of 'Citizens' Advice Bureau' like we have here where you can phone or call in and get legal advice?

I think you need to find out your legal rights and act accordingly. Eating isn't solving the problem. Get militant, get the facts and fight back.


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Unions dont always help much here. Depends on the unipn. When princess was teaching and forced to pay union dues, she did.not get any help from them when she complained about how she was getting two hours short just so that the college did not have to offer her benefits. It depends on the union and its strength.

Disability is even trickier. Unless you are getting ssdi and are officially labeled disabled the disability laws dont count. I know first hand. And if you demand too much accomodation, even if you are labeled disabled, they can legally fire you for reasons ither than your disability. This hapoened to me at head start. I tried to sue but I had no case as they said I was laid off for lack of need of my services. They won. I dont recommend this route at all as you are not even sanctioned by your state as disabled. Fair or not, it is what it is. They have the money and the power.
I still feel it may be best just to look for a more suitable job. You can try the union first if you like. Clerical work, which I did most of my life, is sadly not so valued. Other countries are forced to treat their employees with dignity and workers have rights.
Not like that here so much. Do what you feel is best for you though. These have been my experiences and about disability law...I know you have to be declared disabled by ssi for that to kick in and it still isnt all that great..
Big hugs. You remind me a bit of myself at your age.


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Hey Cali,

I feel bad for you, and for the record, I think your boss's insistence that all contacts be called every day for every absence is ridiculous. I don't know why he is not bombarded with angry parents calling him/the administration/the school board to complain. However, it is not illegal. These people can have their names removed from the emergency list if they choose.

Having said that--making attendance calls is an important part of the job. I don't see how you would win a lawsuit or have a legitimate claim against your boss. And I definitely wouldn't bring up your lack of Spanish as a reason to not make the calls--I'm not sure of the laws in your state, but I wouldn't want them to decide to reclassify your job as one that needs a bilingual employee (if it would even be legal in your state).

Keep looking for a different job, Cali. Within the school district if possible.

There is an on-line computer programming site I just heard about called Code Academy. It is a free site to learn programming. The people who put it together have been recognized by the White House for their work, so it is probably pretty good. Just a thought.

These are just my thoughts, do what you think is best.

We are rooting for you.



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Nlj, I wish it was more like the uk here. All the power is in the hands of the employer. The government doesnt check on him. You can be fired at any time for almost any reason and they dont even have to tell you why. This happened to me many times and lawyers told me i had no recourse. And from age 50 on I WAS state sanctioned disabled. It didnt help me. In fact if I disclosed it that only made getting hired harder. People want to do easy hires and nobody is forced to hire the disabled.
It is the rich withvthe power here and is actually getting.more like this. Just a bipolar diagnosis. Is not enough to be considered disabled. You need to have it declared and that usually takes many attempts. Being able to work full time can make it almost impossible to be declared disabled.
Its different here. Sometimes there is not even any vacztion time or sick days. Very sad for us unless we are very high level professionals who make a lot of money...getting militant or even critical at work is a good way to get fired for being a troublemaker. Yes, its legal to fire for that or almost anything. You fight back, you are fired. Workers have few legal rights. Even if you are fired,byou may not receive unemployment payments.
Good legal advice here is usually paid by us.
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Active Member
It is absolutely not true that you have to be declared disabled by ssi before disability laws apply to you. They apply to every employee of any company that employs 15 or more people. We are a very small company (barely over 15 employees), and we still deal with at least one of these cases a year. ANYONE who has a disability (and all that's required is information from your doctor that you do, indeed, have a disability as it is defined in ADA guidelines). Some state laws provide even more protection than federal law. The caveat is that you have to be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. It is up to you to let your employer know you have a disability and what accommodations you need. Having said that, if the main function of the job is to make attendance calls, I'm not sure what accommodations exist that would enable you to do that job. Life's too short to stay in a job you absolutely despise. I hope you find a good solution so you can be happy about work again.


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Maybe it's different in different states. I know that my disability was not counted until I was deemed so by SSI.On the other hand (and this is big) I kept my mood and anxiety disorder secret when I applied for jobs thinking they'd keep me from getting hired. On t he other hand, although I got hired pretty easily (I am very verbally astute) my anxiety combined with my non-verbal learning disability made it nearly impossible for me to do any job that was in any way complicated or involved multitasking so I got fired tons of times anyway. Usually in the exit interview, I'd hear, "I don't get it. You sounded SO INTELLIGENT when you were interviewed. But you make so many mistakes." I can tell you I spent many days in my car, in tears, thinking about suicide and feeling useless over these exit interviews.

At other times, I was just fired without a reason and when I asked was just told, "It's not working out." Or, as in Head Start, being based on something one bus driver said as opposed to all the other drivers I'd worked with...successfully. That really broke my heart. I'd loved that job. But it wasn't my decision. Arguing my case did not help. Blah, blah, blah. It is hard to work when you have a serious disability. You need a good fit that does not stress you out or exasperate your disability. In my case I worked years at medical answering services until they became obsolete. They did not pay well, b ut I loved the jobs and was good on the phones and with the people and none of my disabilities were an issue. Without them around I now struggle to find jobs I can perform. Cashering, for example, is stressful, too fast paced and very hard for me to do. Even fast food! Yes, I have tried. And now my age is also against me although the employer can't say so. But it is.

I was also told by a lawyer that there was nothing I could do if I was fired for a disability unless I could prove the fact. The company said it was not because of my disability and I couldn't prove it was. It would have involved others stepping up to the plate f or me and verifying my claim and nobody wanted to risk his or her job to do so. I contacted everyone as almost everyone knew.

At any rate, if you are up front about your disability, you don't have to be hired. There is no law mandating that you be hired and it IS harder to get a job.

Thank you for your correction. I think it is worthwile for anyone disabled to check into it.
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Active Member
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law, so at a minimum, all employees in the U.S. of employers with 15 or more employees receive that much protection. As I said, some states offer even more protection than the federal law does. California is one of those states that offers more protection than the federal law requires. I think it's only common sense that an employer doesn't have to accommodate a disability they don't know about, or that you have to be able to prove you were discriminated against due to a known disability, if that is the reason you were terminated. It's true an employer does not have to hire a disabled person, but the reason for not hiring cannot be due to the disability. In any case where a disabled person thinks they were discriminated against, I would recommend filing a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), rather than contacting an attorney. Their contact information is listed on the employment law posters that are mandated to be in most workplaces.


Well-Known Member
Thanks for the info.

I did contact EEOC, but they couldn't help either with proof and it's hard to prove. The company will never say it is about the disability.


Active Member
The EEOC gets both sides of the story. The employee does not have to provide their own proof (in most cases that would be impossible for the employee to provide, unless the employer gave him/her a letter on company letterhead that said you're terminated due to your disability), but upon investigation there does have to be enough merit to the complaint for the EEOC to proceed with it. There can be a fine line between unfair and illegal.


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I think some of you are talking about two different things. To get work accommodations under the ADA, you have to have "a disability". To be "disabled" under SSDI, you have to be "totally and permanently disabled", defined as being unable to work at any job for at least 12 months. It makes no sense to have to be "disabled" as defined by SSDI for work accommodations, because the definition is that you can't work.

Any disability will require a reasonable accommodation. Say you have a hearing impairment, but your job requires you to talk on the phone. The job must accommodate you by giving you a hearing impaired receiver. However, if the person is totally deaf they don't have to give them a TDDY terminal or make someone else answer the phones and sign to them. My job requires lots of phone calls and the ability to handle legal actions. I can do it blind. I can do it without legs. But if I were to suddenly develop an anxiety disorder where I could not speak to people and be in control of a legal proceeding, I'd be out of a job. I have to be able to do that.

Now CB has proven that, even with her anxiety disorder, she can do her job. She's done it for 10 years! Her problem is that this employer is not only not accommodating her, he's actively doing things that make it impossible to do her job without a breakdown! She definitely needs to see a doctor, first and foremost, and make sure she tells them she CAN and HAS done this job...before THIS administrator started doing what he is. She needs to get a doctor's recommendation on what would be a reasonable accommodation. Then she needs to take this matter to her HR department.

Just my opinion.

Best of luck CB. Keep us in the loop.


Well-Known Member
Lil, thank you so much for legally explaining. I value so much all the free legal advice you give us here. I did not understand and am a little puzzled because even with SSDI you are allowed to work and make up to $1000/month. Ok, it's no fortune, but if SSDI assumes you CAN'T work AT ALL, how come you are allowed to have a job????

Ach! Why is everything so complicated? ;)