Who's the worst boss in the US?

A new report takes Dish Network's founder and chairman Charles Ergen to task for treatment of the company's employees.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 4, 2013 2:48PM

Image: Charles 'Charlie' Ergen, chairman and co-founder of Dish Network Corp (© Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Bad bosses aren't uncommon, but according to one report there's one that stands a head above (or should it be below?) the rest of America's managers: Dish Network (DISH) Chairman Charles Ergen. 

Ergen, with an estimated net worth of $9 billion, doesn't allow its employees to have company credit cards -- and for many years would deduct money from an employee's paycheck if they tipped more than 15%, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Expecting workers at their desks no later than 9 a.m., Dish previously used identification badges for entry to its headquarters. But after noting that some workers were asking colleagues to "badge-in" for them, Ergen reportedly had the company switch over to fingerprint scanners. 

"Multiple ex-employees say it’s not uncommon to see Ergen publicly berate an executive for scanning in a few minutes late," the article notes, "even if that executive had spent the previous 12 hours at home working through the night."

Ergen isn't warm and fuzzy to Wall Street, either. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett tells Businessweek that when he first started in his job, he asked to fly to Denver to meet with Dish's management. Dish responded, "We’re too busy creating value around here to sit down and talk about it. Thanks but no thanks.”

Despite his critics, Ergen's focus appears to have helped the company's bottom line: Dish has beaten estimates for five out of the last eight quarters, and its stock jumped 27% last year.

A spokesman for Dish told the New York Post, "It is a challenging place to work." He added that Dish is a "cost-conscious company", where executives are required to share hotel rooms when they travel.

Since Ergen stepped down as chief executive, the company has relaxed some policies: for instance, it's now acceptable to leave a 17% tip without getting your paycheck dinged. 

On employment site Glassdoor.com, Dish receives only 2.2 stars out of 5, based on roughly 600 reviews from employees. That means its workers are "dissatisfied." But one recent reviewer, who awarded Dish just one star, wrote, "Joe Clayton (CEO) put us up to upgrading our score." 

A Dish spokesman tells MSN Money Now that Clayton has encouraged employees to read the Businessweek article and add reviews to the employment site. According to an excerpt from the memo, Clayton wrote, "If you are happy here at DISH, and believe the company is moving in the right direction, log on to glassdoor.com (here) and provide feedback."

The spokesman adds, "It's Joe's regular practice to solicit direct feedback -- good and bad -- from employees so we can improve the business. This is an effort we take very seriously."

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Jan 4, 2013 5:06PM

As an executive for many years now, i have found that  you can get the same or even better results by being NICE. You don't have to berate a person, especially in front of others.


This JERK must be on a power trip without his ego in tact. Have seen plenty like him before. Isn't that right Gunner C??


Try being respectful Ergen. You just might see even better outcomes.


Ergen is a HERO to those who run companies! Carrot & Stick therory,mostly stick! To employees,he is a HUMP!



Jan 4, 2013 4:59PM

It must be a disease of the satellite companies and cable companies to treat customers the way they do, I can't imagine having to work for them.  Money grubbing bastards, all of them.

Jan 4, 2013 4:46PM
He's a jerk and one day he'll be a dead jerk and many will cheer. As for Direct, never had it but I get at least one letter, sometimes two a week to solicit me. Just imagine how many trees would be saved and how many more billions he could hoard up in heaven (sarcasm)  if they would stop that.
Jan 4, 2013 4:30PM
The reason I no longer work for anyone; this executive would get a very serious beating with his own golf club if he were my boss. 
Jan 4, 2013 4:30PM
Sounds like the greatest boss in the world. Just too many sniveling employees !!!
Jan 4, 2013 4:25PM
It is remarkable that such punitive methods exist.  Knowledge of behavioral methods would clearly show that positive interventions work far better than punitive ones.  In addition, punitive methods interfere with evaluation of self and company.  So the company improved?  Perhaps it could have improved much more using positive methods.  Punitive methods last only as long as you "berate" people.  And loss of staff, staff turnover, impacts overall profitability.  Anytime this agency wants to improve performance and profits, to analyze and not react only, to error analyze properly, by company and by individual, they should contact me.
Jan 4, 2013 4:12PM

Just for comparison sake, M&M Mars requires an employee to "swipe in" when starting their work day.  The difference is that Mars rewards their employees for being on time, paying them a 10% punctuality bonus.


Of course, if you are late more than three times, you are given fair warning to straighten up your act.

Jan 4, 2013 4:03PM
I don't think the shareholders would agree that he's a bad boss.  It's all about perspective.
Jan 4, 2013 3:57PM
I'd take 10 of this guy over my last boss, talk about spoiled employees !
Jan 4, 2013 3:56PM
We have many friends who have Direct Tv and also Dish Tv, both have no service people when you call with a problem.  Both want you to do your own repairs if possible.  They charge a service call to come out to fix their problem.  Service is non existing.  Their equipment is old, break downs often.  
Jan 4, 2013 3:53PM

Nice job on beating the estimates for 5 of the last 8 quarters, but good luck sustaining any long term success.  You can only save yourself to profitability for so long before you run out of areas to tighten your belt.

Jan 4, 2013 3:49PM
Al-Jazeera should not be allowed to purchase Current Tv. Al-Jazeera is a terrorist Org. who hates the USA. What is Al Gore thinking.  No sale, Gov't should stop this in its tracks.  Free Speech does not apply to Terrorist Org. like Al-Jazeera.  
Jan 4, 2013 3:47PM

First, how about writing something new and different to read such as "America's 10,000 Worst Employees"?  I know from experience there are far more of them than bad bosses and their antics would make all but the very worst of bosses look like saints.


With regard to this blather, how is it that neither the writer or editor know the difference between a paycheck and an expense account?  For the uninformed, expenses such as tips are repaid via an expense account, not taken out of your paycheck. 


In addition, if you don't like the company policy with regard to of expenses (such as sharing rooms or limiting the size of tips - or God forbid making you use airline tickets that are purchased at the lowest possible cost) then shut up and go to work for someone who doesn't control expenses so tightly.


In the "OHMYGOD!" category is the fact the company took action to stop employees from cheating by clocking in employees who were not at work.  Rhetorically I ask, how could the boss be so callous and hard hearted that he didn't support his workers stealing from the company? 


As to refusing interviews, why would you waste your time on them when you know the chances of the writer getting your story correct are less than zero?  After all, if they don't know the difference between paychecks and expense accounts how could they understand your company operations?





Jan 4, 2013 3:42PM
Isn't it amazing how a man who is obviously successful and intelligent can be a total insensitive jerk?  Just think what kind of employee loyalty he could have if he became more humane and understanding.  He's a billionaire-(good for him)-but. . . . he's just a jerk with money!!
Jan 4, 2013 3:36PM

We have no choice but to subscribe to Dish but it is really a scumbag company, although it is in almost a dead-heat race with  Direct.


Jan 4, 2013 3:33PM
no wonder we did'nt like Dish and got rid it in less than 2 months. It was worth the penalties to be rid of it!
Jan 4, 2013 3:31PM
The owner of Allen Systems Group, Art Allen, has this guy beat. Just google Allen Systems Group Glassdoor and check the reviews.
Jan 4, 2013 3:19PM
I didn't think India would put up with that crap!  Never can get an english speaking rep.
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