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The Worst Bosses of 2011: Is Your Money Backing One of These CEOs?


eBossWatch released its third annual list of America's worst bosses, proving that role and status are no indicators of how bad a leader can be.

Bad bosses are one of the few facets of the working world that are consistent across industries, genders, and pay scales. Level of education, years of experience and role in the company doesn't guarantee that a boss will be good or bad-and it doesn't always mean that they are lacking in talent or contribution, either. (Though known for his genius, even the late Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc. (AAPL) was often described as "prickly" in his own leadership style.)

eBossWatch, an online career resource that enables people to "anonymously rate their bosses and evaluate potential employers" released its third annual list of "Americas Worst Bosses" today. Proving that role and status are no indicators of a bad boss, the 2011 America's Worst Bosses list includes corporate leaders, an actor, doctors, a judge, and several political figureheads. It spans a range of industries, including publicly traded companies, universities, and government municipalities. Most disturbingly is that two-thirds of the list includes bosses who were found guilty of sexual harassment and discrimination. Aside from the lasting emotional trauma these bosses cause their victims, their behavior costs the entity they represent-and the investors who have money in them. Here are some of the "worst bosses" that just might be costing you money.

Ranked at No. 10, Richard Moore, a former general manager at Atlanta-based rent to own company Aaron's Inc. (AAN), was found guilty of sexually harassing a former customer service rep at the company. In response to his behavior, a jury ordered the publicly traded company to pay $95 million in damages (though harassment "caps" lead to a final required payment of far less). Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar (a DineEquity (DNI) brand) was ordered to pay $1 million after a former general manager named Mike Cordova (No. 13 on the list) was found guilty of groping female workers and negotiating raises for sexual favors. A Dunkin' Donuts (DNKN) franchise store in Wyantskill, NY was ordered to pay $290,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, thanks to manager Paul Chiarello's (ranked No. 39) sexual advances made to teenage employees.

Retailer American Apparel (APP) might stand to pay a staggering price for the poor conduct of two of its leaders. CEO Dov Charney, who is ranked No. 71 on the eBoss list, has been named in a number of sexual harassment charges over the years, though none of have ultimatley gone to trial-until recently. In March 2011, The Los Angeles Times reported that Charney was named in a $250 million lawsuit by a former employee who calls him "a sexual predator." Charney's not the only bad boss at American Apparel. Number 49 on the list is Sean Alonzo (who is reportedly "one step down" from Charney). He earned the company a $343,000 fine after admitting to charges that he called an African American employee the "n-word" several times. (His lawyers argued that he was simply singing rap lyrics.)

Not just corporate America suffers at the hands of horrible bosses. Though former Penn State University defensive coach Jerry Sandusky (who is No. 18 on the eBoss list) has dominated headlines in the wake of his sexual abuse scandal, it's not the only athletic program with abusive leaders. California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) women's volleyball coach Jon Stevenson (ranked No. 12 on the eBoss list) was "relieved of his duties" in September 2011, after it was found that 23 female volleyball players left the school (with many abandoning full scholarships) due to his "sexual innuendo," inappropriate touching and creation of a "fear-based environment." Actor David Boreanaz (No. 23 on the list) and star of the hit FOX (NWS) television series Bones, settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for an undisclosed amount that was brought about by an actress who worked as an extra on the show.

Companies who fail to act appropriately to employee complaints of abuse pay big, too. PetSmart, Inc. (PETM) is also being sued for allegedly subjecting a female employee to a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination in two of its stores, because of abuse inflicted by store managers Matthew Girard (listed at No. 44) and Charles Vesseley. R.J. Reynolds (operated by Reynolds American (RAI) was ordered to pay $800,000 in damages to two former female employees who alleged that their female supervisor, Michelle Madsen (ranked No. 45), "made comments suggesting that the employees' job performance was related to their sexual activity." The courts found that the company failed to do anything about Madsen's behavior -- or her retaliatory action against them -- when learning of the complaint. A former UBS Financial Services Inc (UBS) employee sued after she was fired after 22 years of service, claiming that UBS management retaliated after she filed a discrimination charge against First Vice President Jay DeGoler (ranked No. 48). In September 2011, a judge awarded punitive damages of just over $7 million to the employee.

Though sexual harassment is a dominating theme on this year's list, it's not the only costly bad-boss error. In August 2011, 3M (MMM) agreed to pay $3 million to 290 former employees over the age of 45, on discrimination charges brought about by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The suit charged that 3M, known for its focus on innovation, targeted "many highly paid older employees, among others, to save money and cut workers in salaried positions up to the level of director." The findings were supported in part by an email from then-CEO James McNerney (ranked at No. 60 on the eBoss list and current CEO of Boeing (BA)), stating that "we should be developing 30-year-olds with General Manager potential" and that 3M should "tap into the youth as participants in the leadership development."
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