Ask Amy: I loathe my new boss. Should I tell HR?


Dear Amy: I need some advice about my boss. In more than 30 years of employment, the majority have been unpleasant or toxic workplaces, mostly because of difficult supervisors.

A few years ago, I started at a new job doing building maintenance for a local municipality. It was great; my work requirements, the hours, my co-workers and, most importantly, my supervisor were wonderful.

I thought I had found my “forever” job.

Unfortunately, my supervisor recently retired, and their replacement is hard to take.

Since their first week on the job, a lot of fussy, nitpicky microaggressions have been directed my way, especially if there are building issues.

They try to admonish and blame me, even if there is no possible way it is my fault or responsibility.

Some days are tolerable, but now I loathe any interaction with the supervisor, and I’ve been looking for other jobs to transfer out of this department.

I know I am not alone. Other co-workers are unhappy and are looking for other jobs. I would like to stay in my position, but not under these circumstances.

I have lost my tolerance for a hostile workplace, because I know it doesn’t have to be this way.

Should I take my issues to my supervisor first, or should I go directly to my human resources department?

— Fed up with Bad Bosses

Fed Up: My first thought is that “building issues” are legitimate items to nitpick about. After all, maintaining buildings seems to be within the scope of your job. I also think that casting job-related nitpicking as “microaggressions” might not be appropriate. (From your description, it’s hard to tell.) “Microaggressions” are, strictly speaking, comments or actions directed toward a person from a marginalized group, such as a racial or ethnic minority. Maybe this applies to you — but nitpicking over work issues does not necessarily apply.

You had a dream supervisor who communicated well with you and obviously trusted you to perform well. This new person does not possess that valuable skill set and has not started off on good footing with you.

While you are looking for a different position, you should at least attempt to communicate with your supervisor to review your job description, your duties and their expectations — which seem different from your previous supervisor’s. Of course, your boss should initiate this conversation, as opposed to trying to inspire you through negative feedback, but they have not done this.

I suggest you make a concerted attempt to communicate with your supervisor before going to HR, because HR will probably suggest this before taking action.

Take notes and document your concerns in writing (with dates), and describe specific incidents and issues for your later meeting with HR.

Dear Amy: My husband has a good friend whom he’s had since college.

I’ve now known him and his wife for more than 20 years.

Over the years, their drinking and fighting have increased. It’s nothing for her to drink two bottles of wine a night — and he’s not far behind.

A couple of years ago, we went on a three-week vacation with them, and the drinking and fighting were nonstop.

They’re asking us to go on another vacation with them, and we just don’t want to. We’ve tried the gentle excuse: “Oh, we tend to like different activities than you do.”

I’m willing to still see them occasionally socially, because I can choose to go home if the night gets rough.

In my experience, they’re good about not driving when they’re drinking, so I don’t believe that how much they drink is my business.

But I just don’t want to spend a vacation with them.

Wondering: First of all, a three-week vacation with any hard-drinking and hard-fighting couple seems less like a vacation and more like a summer stock run of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Your gentle excuse is a great place to start.

If they push harder, you could sharpen your point: “The drama between you two really ramps up when you’re drinking. It makes us uncomfortable.”

Dear Readers: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255, has recently changed its name and made it easier for people to make contact.

The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is now a simple three-digit contact: 988. (The previous number can still be used indefinitely.)

The very helpful website is now

I urge parents and teachers to do their best to spread the word.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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