As a workplace advice columnist, I get a lot of questions about weird or annoying coworkers. But some people cross the line from annoying into truly terrible. Here are 10 of the worst coworkers that readers have reported. Take a look and see if any of your own coworker stories top these galling accounts!
1. Charity hoaxer
“A coworker’s grandchild died out of state. We all sympathized with the fact that she couldn’t afford a plane ticket to go to the funeral. I took up a collection so that she could go. This was a few days before Christmas and people dug deep to get her to the funeral. Well, I just found out that she never went to the funeral. She admitted that she did not fly out at all. Actually, she never even looked for a ticket. She took the money and the time off and stayed home. Her intent was to be able to buy her husband a power tool that he wanted for Christmas.”
2. Lunch stealer
“I’ve recently been transferred to a new department, working in a new office environment, under a new manager. His diet consists mainly of fast food and take-out.
I have crazy allergies to a bunch of foods, and chemicals found in most processed foods. Some are the swell-up-like-a-balloon-and-stop-breathing kind of allergy. I make most of my food at home and bring it with me to work. I’m really open about my allergies so that people understand I’m just defective, not rude. And most people get it. Except my manager. He eats my lunch out of the staff fridge on an almost daily basis as if the food fairy left him a gift. I resorted to packing meals that I could keep at my desk, and he started raiding my drawers when I would be in meetings or away from my desk. When I try to address the fact that he’s stealing my food, he tries to butter me up by complimenting my cooking then walks away.”
3. Snoring coworker
“A woman I work with is constantly falling asleep at her desk, in her office with the door wide open. She snores so loudly that it disrupts my work, and at first it scared me. I have told the manager and his suggestion was to drop a big book and make a loud noise to wake her up. He even witnessed her sleeping too. I have resorted to documenting her naps with pictures and video. Would it be totally wrong to upload them to YouTube?”
4. Hug attacks
“We have a gregarious employee who regularly solicits hugs from visitors and volunteers who come into the office. These are not simple polite hugs of greeting but rather overly demonstrative productions. She also does it in a way that draws a lot of attention to herself — for example, she’ll sometimes go for a longer-than-necessary, full-body hug. She has a naturally loud voice, so even if I’m in another room, I can usually overhear the accompanying expressions. She’ll loudly announce how good it feels to be hugged. Unsurprisingly, people have expressed discomfort with it.
While I have nothing at all against people hugging one another in general, the atmosphere that she brings with it is that it’s almost like a form of therapy for her, and I don’t think this is the place for that.”
5. Rated - not suitable for coworkers
“I share an open office space with two guys. When I came back from medical leave in September, I discovered that one had picked up a new habit: watching inappropriate sexual videos while I was working 5 feet away from him. Long story short, he scrubs everything everyday and IT has never been able to catch him, so I can’t prove sexual harassment. My boss’s solution: everyone’s desk now faces the wall and we have a new firewall.”
6. Money grabber
“There is someone in my company who every week hits up people for money. It’s usually between $20-$100, and he promises to have the money after payday, but then there is always some emergency. I loaned this guy about $200 over two months that I have not gotten back. From what I am hearing around the office, he has “borrowed” more than $1,000 from everybody, but I do not think the boss is aware of this. He has no money to pay anyone back, yet he is always finding enough money for cigarettes and lottery tickets.”
7. Mean girl who can’t let go
“My former coworker has decided to throw a party at her home for select staff members. It’s going to be a very large party with 40+ guests, and she plans to approach the CEO of our company to ask him for help paying for the party. I told her I thought it would be odd to try to make this a work event when the list isn’t open and people are clearly going to be excluded. I told her she’d have better chances of his agreeing with her if the event was an open-invitation to our entire building. She declined, suggesting that some people in the building are negative and not-well liked and she wants this to be an opportunity for other people to enjoy themselves drama-free.
She wants to have t-shirts printed with our company logo, the date of the party, and a catchy slogan to create hype. We would be allowed to wear the t-shirts to work on dress-down days because it contains the company logo. I think she’s going over the top, being rude, and potentially going to alienate the people who were not invited to the party. She says, ‘If someone’s upset about not being invited, they are really childish — this is not middle school. They should do some soul searching to think about why they were excluded.’”
8. Home attack
“I work nights and was expecting to go in on my regular night shift. I was sleeping, like I always am because of the hours I work, and was called by work to come fill in during the day because the worker who was supposed to be there called in sick. Being asleep, I didn’t answer.
I was rudely awakened by my supervisor beating all around my house on the windows, walls, and doors, to ask me to come in. The banging was so intense that it woke one of my neighbors up and both of my neighbors heard it all. There are also dents (it is a mobile home).”
9. Frame job
“I recently moved departments within my company. The team I left frequently hired chauffeurs for our clients, and we got monthly invoices. Last month, I was mistakenly sent an invoice from July and I noticed that there had been a booking made for me, shortly after midnight on a Saturday night. I was 100% certain that this was nothing to do with me, and, worried about the prospect of an investigation being carried out, I contacted the company and they sent me the recording of the phone call. The recording was of an ex-colleague ordering the car and stating that the passenger would be me – totally untrue and I have evidence that I was elsewhere that night.
The only reason she would have done this would have been to try and frame me for using the service on a weekend, and for something so clearly unrelated to work – thinking I’d never find out as I had left the team by then.”
10. When your awful coworker is your teenage sister
“I am a manager of a seasonal outdoor pool. My younger sister, who is 18, is one of the employees who I manage. She has been disrespectful of me and my management team: walking out of meetings, coming in late repeatedly, not wearing her uniform (swimsuit) when out on the water; we have many performance issues.
As a management team, we focus on consistency with every employee, regardless of relationship, and we apply the same rules, policies, and disciplinary actions to my sister as we do/ would to other employees who have performance issues. However, she does not see it this way – she feels that she is being singled out because she is my sister. It is really to the point where she should be fired – we have had many performance meetings to address why she is acting out and how we can move to work better together, but nothing has seemed to work. However, I don’t want to further strain our relationship by firing her.”
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