My boss always makes me feel stupid, is rude, puts me down all the time, gets other people to tell me how to dress, and so on. Is this in keeping with Jewish law and custom? Are there Jewish rules about how a boss is to treat an employee?
The short answer is that a boss (as does anyone) has an obligation under Jewish law not to abuse other people, employee or not.
Given what you say, I do have to ask if you are receiving this as it is meant. Is being abusive the intent the boss has, or is it more how you are experiencing it?
I am not sure about this situation from what you are describing, for example, because you say the boss asks others to advise you on your dress (do you know that the boss is asking others to speak to you?). Could it perhaps be that the boss is trying to gently convey that you are somehow not dressing appropriately for the workplace, without directly confronting you or embarrassing you? Could you be taking suggestions for how to do better in the workplace as personal criticism?
Before you characterize the behavior as abuse or intended to create bad feelings in you, you might want to consider if there is any truth in the kinds of things that you are hearing from the perspective of the boss. You may want to check with others in the workplace.
If you are firmly convinced that the boss is mistreating you, and there is no cause for it, then the answers to the earlier question referenced may help you to determine how to proceed from here.
Jewish ethics absolutely prohibit employers from exercising power over employees in any way not directly related to the performance of their work duties.This is specifically intended to prevent employers from using the work relationship to gratify their own desire to feel superior to others.For example, one may not require employees to perform meaningless work simply to show that you control their time; this is tantamount to slavery.
Everything said above applies to bosses as well as employers; for these purposes, bosses are considered agents of the employer.
Furthermore, purposelessly insulting and humiliating others is a violation of basic interpersonal responsibilities.The employer-employee relationship adds to those; it does not suspend them.
Of course, your boss may be well-intentioned and unaware of the effect his/her actions and words are having on you, but is rather attempting as best s/he can to help you conform to workplace norms and/or be considered for advancement.Normal interpersonal obligations are binding on employees as well.They must treat employers with courtesy, dignity and generosity.
No, employers do not have a right to oppress their employees in any way -- physically, verbally, psychologically, or in the working conditions they provide. Jews, in fact, were in the forefront in the early twentieth century in forming unions precisely to combat oppressive working conditions. The general rule in the Torah that governs this is "Do not wrong (oppress) one another, but fear your God; for I the Lord am your God" (Leviticus 25:17, and see v. 14 as well). The Rabbis apply this broadly to many different kinds of working conditions and to family violence as well. For a thorough explanation of these laws, see the rabbinic ruling that I wrote on Family Violence for the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards at
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