We’ve all had those jobs where we fear doing anything to upset our bosses—knowing full well that if we do, we could be fired. But what if one of us found ourselves in a situation where we didn’t have to feel that fear?
Every once in a while, some crazy scenario plays out that flips the normal power dynamic on its head—and gives all the power to the employee, instead of their boss. In these moments, the only question is this: will the outraged boss give in, or fire us anyway? Some of us might be surprised at how often the answer is the former.
Here are 42 stories about these “fire me, I dare you!” moments—and how they each turned out!
I worked at a cancer nonprofit.
We hired a lady who knew about us because her kid had cancer.
At one point, my boss wanted me to fire her because she had to come in late or leave early to take her kid to chemo.
I refused. Boss said she'd fire me if I didn't. I told her she could go right ahead. Our CEO said no way.
I worked at a daycare. My boss didn't follow any of the laws regarding childcare and we were understaffed beyond belief. At 19, I was the sole person running the entire kindergarten unit. I decided to stop following her ridiculous rules in favor of keeping my class learning and having fun.
I knew there was nothing she could do to stop me, because she needed me there and also couldn’t risk being reported for her lack of proper workplace standards.
My dad was delivering catering to an office one day and the receptionist had obviously messed up. She started yelling at him in front of her bosses, saying that he was late (which he wasn’t) and that the order was wrong (when it wasn't). She was making such a big issue of it and then said she was going to report him to his manager and get him fired.
So my dad said see if I care and gave her the number. She called. My dad picked up—because he’s not only the manager, but also the owner. Everyone in that room was laughing at her.
I was working at a shoe store in a mall and requested a week off in August for my wedding. My manager told me her boss wasn’t happy about that and all I said was “my wedding is more important than back to school sales.” They didn’t “fire” me, per se—they just stopped scheduling me and eventually, my access to the employee website disappeared.
I once called in sick to my part-time job at a clothing store. My manager told me that if I couldn't find anyone to cover my shift, I was going to be fired.
So I FaceTimed her from the ER and had the doctor explain to her that I needed an MRI because they wanted to make sure I didn't have a brain tumor. I wasn’t fired.
My husband was having his gallbladder taken out and was having complications before surgery. I needed to leave work early for about two hours and my boss threw a fit, stating that I couldn't leave.
I told her I had 300 hours of sick time I can use for myself and my husband and, if she wanted to push, I'd take all of it at once—leaving no one but her to do my job. She said she'd fire me if I tried. I just looked at her and said I have to go.
I wasn't fired. I was actually awarded that year for job performance.
The place I work sees a lot of cash flow in and out, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a day. We also have a tiny store on property that brings in about $50 a day. It's more a courtesy for clients than it is an actual source of serious income. But because of it, we have a small cash drawer for making change and taking in profits. It has just under $300, and it's normal for it to be over or under by a little bit because, again, the shop isn't really how we make money.
My old manager, however, had no business skills. She decided to do an "audit" one day behind our backs and counted it up. It happened at the time to be short by $10. This is nothing. That money was probably in the safe. She called me in the middle of the day to whine over the $10 and demanded I bring it in.
I told her if I have to drag my behind over there when it’s not my shift, I'm bringing the money in quarters. She had a tantrum on the phone, so I hung up on her. I called her manager and told him point blank: you can't afford to lose me, I'm the best you've got, and I'm the only guy you have who is willing to work graveyard shift. I'm this close to quitting on you. What will you do to make this right?
He called her and chewed her out. She did not speak to me for two months. It was glorious.
I was working in a restaurant. I already knew I was sick, but our managers were jerks and I knew if I called in they'd be extremely petty about it. So, I showed up to work around 8 AM. By 9 AM I knew I wasn't going to last the rest of the day, but the managers still made me stay.
Around 9:30, I was pre-bussing my tables and just the sight of half-eaten food pushed me over the edge. I managed to hold my vomit in until I got to the dishwashing area. I then puked in a trash can immediately after putting my plates down.
A coworker saw me and vouched for me when I went to tell my manager I was leaving for the doctor. He said, "Even with a doctors note, if you leave work today you'll be fired." I replied, "You have human waste in a kitchen trash can and haven't even done anything about it. It's on camera. I'm leaving."
I showed up for work again a few days later and didn't hear anything about it. Ended up quitting a few weeks later for a job at a considerably more upscale restaurant.
Told my boss two weeks in advance that I was taking a personal day on a Monday and Tuesday. She approved it with no problems. I take the days off and go out of town for a school thing.
I came back into the office on Wednesday and I'm locked out of my account. I talk to the operations manager to see what's going on. He told me that my boss said I disappeared and didn't contact anybody for two days. I explained my planned days off to him and he said no problem.
I talk to my boss later in the afternoon and she is furious. She starts saying that she thought I had just suddenly quit. I don't know what she was talking about. At this point, I was the only person left on my team of four people who’d been there when I was first hired. I was already planning on quitting in the next month to focus on school. This idiot had the audacity to threaten to fire me. I said, “If you feel like you need to let me go for your mistake, go ahead.”
Of course she didn’t. I ended up working there for another seven weeks before leaving on my terms. I even got to use the operations manager as a reference for another job.
I worked at a fast food chain as a teenager. One day, the assistant manager—who illegally brought her teenage daughter to work to help her out—asked me to clean the restrooms. It wasn’t my normal job but I didn’t mind. I had a good attitude about it and prepared to go clean the bathrooms.
I walked into the men’s room and discovered that the reason she asked me to do it was that someone took a dump all over the bathroom. Smeared fecal matter was all over the walls, the sink, the floor, the outside of the toilet—everywhere. The toilet was clogged and covered in used toilet paper. It was a complete disaster.
I walked out of the bathroom, went back to the kitchen, and told the assistant manager, “I’m not cleaning that. You can fire me but I’m not cleaning it.” She sighed heavily and went and got a mop.
I worked at a private medical college in India. They wanted me to falsify patient admissions to get increased grants from the government. I refused. They said that I would be fired. I was the only resident specializing in orthopedics. I was let go.
Then came a surprise check by a government medical body. I was offered three times my monthly pay to attend for the one-day inspection. I asked for five times my pay and they agreed.
I ditched out at the last moment. They lost their recognition and now have no right to practice ortho till the next check comes around.
My dog became very ill quite suddenly and needed to be put down. I was at work and I asked to leave half an hour early so I could be there for him. I asked my manager and she got annoyed. She said there was "no way" and that I should have told her earlier. I said, "I'm sorry, I didn't realize my dog was going to die," in the most sarcastic way possible, then walked away knowing she'd follow me. I then stood at my desk and began typing my resignation up in front of her.
She gave me the time off.
No one was going to stop me from being there for my boy.
I put in my two weeks notice at my wildly understaffed job. Six days later, I got sick. I called around to see if anyone could take my shift. No one was available.
I tried to call out that morning. The manager tried to persuade me to come in even though I was barfing everywhere. I noncommittally agreed to call back later in the day to see if I might be feeling up to coming in anyway.
I called back and told her I am still sick and will not be coming in. She blew up at me in front of customers, and was extremely rude. She eventually asked what I expect to do about the shift that needed to be covered. I said that I had done everything I was required to do and that it sounded like a management problem to me. I hung up and turned my phone off.
My company is heavily dependent on me. My closest boss threatened to fire me for being home one day when I would normally be at work. Two weeks prior, I had agreed to do overtime in order to get a new schedule so that I wouldn’t miss an important event. I got a new schedule, but she had forgotten to fill in that day on it. She blamed me for it anyway, and said it was grounds for terminating my contract. I dared her to do it and to see how long they could stay in business without me.
I’m an aircraft technician and I work on an air ambulance on a very small island in the middle of nowhere.
We used to have two licensed aircraft maintenance engineers in this position because we work a crazy schedule, but a new company bought our old one and the other guy left for a position closer to home. After six months, they haven't been able to fill the position and have had to spend a ton of money every month on bringing in temporary substitutes.
They decided one day that they wanted to lower my salary by 30% or fire me because I was getting nearly twice what they used to pay people for my role. They told me to accept it or that they would put another guy in my position.
Yeah, good luck finding one when you still haven’t filled the first position. Needless to say, I kept my salary and I’m still there—there was nothing they could do about it.
I’ve been on the other end of this. I had an employee who I’d personally recruited. He didn't even apply for a job, I just convinced him to move here and work for me. He failed to train fast enough, and by that I mean he really stood out as a slouch who could not do anything. But what was I supposed to do? I literally brought him in. And he knew it—he acted like he had tenure from the minute he arrived. I will never make that mistake again...
Important note: My usual job was 3 AM to noon and I would sleep from 5 PM to 1 AM. A split shift meant working 4:30 AM to 8 AM and coming back from 7 PM to 11:30 PM.
I had been working a series of split shifts and the wacky sleep schedule was really getting to me. I was told I would only need to do it three days in a row, but then it became four days.
Then finally, I went to sleep after the fourth shift and got woken up to my boss calling me and telling me I would have to work one more split shift. I told him "No" and that I would only come in for my usual schedule. He started to argue with me. He asked why it was a big deal and why I couldn’t just do it for one more day. When I explained that I was having issues with sleep and that I couldn't come in, he said "But it's your job! I am scheduling you for another split shift." And I just yelled at him, "Then I don't need this job!"
He started apologizing and said that he would let me get some sleep. I hung up.
I went to work the next morning for my usual shift and everyone there was surprised to see me. My boss had told everyone that he thought I might not show up at all and wasn't sure if I had quit. I worked my usual shift, my boss came in at 8 AM, and began apologizing right away when he saw me. Then he said, "If working a split was so hard on you, you could have just told me no!" I just turned away and went off to lunch.
I was the delivery manager for a furniture company about 15 years ago. All of us workers smoked except one guy—and he hated anyone who did. We all knew this, so we kept it fairly well hidden from him. One day, he smelled smoke in the truck and told the store manager. The store manager called me to his office and asked what I thought would happen if he tested all of us. I told him he’d have one guy left working for him. Needless to say, he didn’t test us and that other guy quit not long after.
The owner of my company was avoiding the meeting where I would get my raise. I waited over two weeks. Finally, I told my supervisors that I'm walking out the door if they don't fix this. They told me to go talk to him. I told them they were the supervisors and it was their job to do that, not mine.
I'm in an understaffed position at a job that is very difficult to fill. If I left, the rest would have gone too. They knew that.
My company was doing badly during the 2008 recession. They hired an expensive new Vice President to lead our division who asked me barely one month in to sack any two people of my choice from my team of software engineers because she thought we had too many.
I steadfastly refused and dared her to fire me instead, and the issue really blew up at the time. Before they could fire any of us, though, a new contract came along which needed more people to execute than we even had on our rolls. The VP got fired a few months later as she was way too expensive and wasn’t adding enough value.
When I was 17, I worked a summer holiday job at a chain restaurant. I had been there for five weeks already and hadn’t been paid yet. The boss claimed it was because I gave him the wrong employee number. I hadn’t.
Anyway, after five weeks of no pay, I rang him on New Year’s Eve—i.e. the busiest night of the summer in New Zealand—and said I wasn’t coming to work because I wasn’t a volunteer and wasn’t going to work for free. He told me if I didn’t come in, I may as well not come back as I would be fired.
I didn’t go to work and had a fun New Year’s instead.
Then, a few days later, I called the Employment Tribunal and told them what had happened. They called my boss. He then called me, offered me my job back and was nice as pie for the rest of the summer.
There was one guy who messed something up and needed to be fired—but it was his first day back after being out for his child's birth. Naturally, no one expected me to actually go through with it. But I did.
I used to manage restaurants a long time ago. It was awesome. Tons of fun.
I then hired my girlfriend at the time.
Later on, she just stopped showing up to work. She basically thought that I would just let it go and not do anything because I didn’t want to have her break up with me. I had to fire her. Ouch, that was rough. This story hurts to even think about.
I used to work at a small, family-owned grocery store for a few years. We got our load in on Mondays and Thursdays, and we got passed over one Monday. The distributor said we'd get the missing load in on Thursday. So, what essentially happened was a double load, and my two receiving partners were out sick. I was the only person in the warehouse receiving at the time, and got to take on 15+ pallets of groceries that needed to hit the shelves immediately.
I was specifically told to not go up front, and to just do what I could while the front end crew covered the aisles and cash registers. Well, a lot of them were either lazy, untrained, or just putting in their hours so they could pay bills. I put in my earbud (just one) and got to work.
I'm halfway through checking in the pallets when I get called up front. So I ignore it and continue. Then I get called again. So I head up there and get yelled at by a new hire with a bad attitude to "do your job and bag for me!" Luckily, the customer was a regular and we got along very well. She told me that she was fine and could bag her own groceries.
Between the customer and the fact that I wasn't having it, I walked away. I had three years and two ranks on her, so I went back to my pallets. Then, I get the newest hotshot manager in my face about having an earbud in on the clock—which is allowed as long as you have one ear free. She said I could be sent home and not come back if I wanted to listen to music. I gestured to the pallets and said "Go for it, these all need to be checked in and broken down. Have fun."
I got to keep my earbud in.
The college intern at my office thought that I wouldn’t ever fire him because he had given me really good connections to a local dealer—but business is business. Sorry, kid!
The Atlanta Braves won the 1995 World Series. When the dates for the NL home games were announced back in the spring, I went to the request-off book at the fast food place where I worked and wrote my name down on the three days of those potential games.
October comes. The Braves make it all the way. The schedule comes out and I'm scheduled to work a closing shift for all three games.
I go to the store manager to protest and she says, "Those are requests, not guarantees."
So I said, "I'm going to the games; I dare you to fire me."
I went to all three games. I was fired. I drove straight from my old work to another restaurant, walked in, immediately got a job, and made a lot more money. Worth it.
I brought a PowerPoint into my last job’s performance review that basically ended with "I know how much I'm worth, either pay me more or find some other sucker to do the work of five people for you."
I intended for it to come off as a half-joke because my boss and I were pals, but he thought it made sense so he gave me a raise.
I used to work at a liquor store with two extremely unreliable people who loved drama. Both of them got into ego contests with the manager and quit on the spot, leaving me and a skeleton crew to manage the rest of the crazy summer season.
The rest of the crew spent a good portion of their shifts sitting on pallets, doing substances in the bathroom, and/or drinking on the job—so I was suddenly the go-to employee.
Compared to the two drama queens, I was a very well-behaved employee, but I would sometimes take my tips and pop over to the coffee shop next door while on the clock. One time, I stepped back into the store right as the manager came into the other entrance. I just stood there and looked at her, she kind of shrugged helplessly, and let me do it for the rest of the summer.
I had to fire my roommate because he wasn't bringing in enough money for the charity we both worked for. He did not see that coming and did not think I would go through with it. Things got awkward around the house for a while afterward.
I worked for an electronics chain and always butted heads with the district manager. He wanted me to use these ridiculous sales techniques that might work in a big city but were really pushy and unusual for our environment.
The year he became our DM, I won a contest for best salesman in the whole company out of about 14,000 employees, and I did it without being pushy or forcing stuff on people. After that, I stopped sugar coating my responses to his requests for ridiculous sales tactics and would flat out tell him, "That's stupid, I'm not going to do it that way."
I was one out of three dishwashers for a hotel restaurant, so there was a lot of work for us. One of the guys never did any work, and the other guy only worked early morning shifts, as he had multiple jobs. I finished all my duties and walked outside for a smoke break.
The manager came out and threatened to fire me if I didn't go back inside right then and finish the dishes. I told him what his predicament would be if he fired me, and he stormed off. I came back in ten minutes later, and there were only maybe three dishes left to do, and I was the only one working then, so there was no way another dishwasher did them.
I was 19 and working a minimum wage job in a shop. The owner sold the business to a new guy, who had never worked in the industry and knew nothing about any of it. His first day in charge, he decides I look unprofessional and should be wearing a uniform. Then he decides the uniform should include a fluorescent cap with my name embroidered on it. I told him I wouldn’t have taken this job if it had included wearing a fluorescent cap with my name embroidered on it, but he tells me it’s going to be mandatory from now on—so I will be sacked if I don’t wear it.
Fine by me, I replied, I’ll be leaving for any other job which pays exactly the same but doesn’t make me wear a ridiculous hat, and I’ll take with me my good relationships with all our contractors and suppliers, and my knowledge of how the heck all your equipment actually works.
You can guess that he didn’t fire me. Nor was I presented with a spiffy new hat when all the other employees got theirs. I did leave about two weeks later though, as he was an insufferable jerk with a real anger issue, and was impossible to work with. I was very tempted to pop in and visit wearing a cap with my name on it sometime, but I didn’t want him to die from rage.
We had a tech guy whose girlfriend of three years broke up with him and kicked him out the week prior. He was couch surfing and I think he even slept in our office a few times. He was a nice guy overall, but just dumb and unable to follow simple directions. Nevertheless, it was impossible to fire him under such circumstances—everyone had too much sympathy for him.
I was working in the service industry and one of my customers ordered something that had since been reworked on the menu. I could tell he didn't like it but didn't want to complain. I told my manager exactly that and she got mad at me because he didn't actually complain. She yelled at me about how I couldn't know what he was thinking, so I asked her to just go talk to the guy and if I was wrong she could fire me.
You'll never guess exactly what the guy said to her. She didn't look me in the eye for over a month. This was the second time something like this happened with her.
I told my supervisors, manager, and safety department about severe issues at work, including broken equipment and more. They didn't do anything. I told the union and they didn't do anything either. I reported the issues for SEVERAL months—nothing. So, I finally said forget it, and reported them to the government.
Suddenly, I had my supervisor freak out and ask if I called them. I told him straight up, "Yes, you're darn right I did." He threatened to fire me. I told him about the whistleblower laws and how that would be the stupidest decision he could ever make. I told him to please do it, as I would love the easy $200k I would easily win from the lawsuit. I haven’t had any issues at work since.
A guy was stealing from my company, thinking I would never fire him because he was my best friend. He was wrong. He hates me to this day, six years later. It was not an insignificant theft. I felt I had to protect the livelihood of the other 1,000 people who worked at the facility.
I was in the military and was trying to take my vacation time before I lost the days. They denied my requests four different times and I hadn't had a day off in three months. I was working 12 to 16-hour shifts most days. I was beyond done.
I was teaching some new guys part of the tasks for one job. Everything was fine, and I went to do something else on the plane. This Quality Assurance guy that everyone knew was a pain came in. I did my stuff well and he never bothered me, so I didn't pay him any attention. He started talking to one of the new dudes.
He then asked to talk to me and pulled me aside. He asked why I hadn't told the new guy about some super obscure caution about water under a grate in the hangar floor. It was something that had nothing to do with our job and didn't really matter at all, he was just being a pain.
I was over the job, so I told him, "Listen, I’ve been denied my leave four separate times and I’ve been working for three months straight, so if you have a problem with the way I taught them then write me up. I don't give a damn and you can stuff it up your behind too. Tell my boss I said that."
It was a little extreme but I was pushed to the breaking point. When I went back in, I knew I was in deep doo-doo because the guy walked out of my shop head's office and I got called right in. When I went in there, the shop head said, "I heard what happened out there, submit the days you want to take leave right now and I'll approve it for you."
Score one for me.
We had a sales rep with six kids, who thought no one would ever fire him because he had been working there for so long and had a good reputation. No one wanted to do anything about it.
Finally, he crossed the line when he started harassing and hitting on all the female employees—including my wife. We fired him.
I worked at a convenience store. My coworker and I were classmates, and we were 16 or 17 years old at the time. The place got broken into, food and drinks were stolen, and when I came to work, the owner and his daughter were yelling at my coworker.
He was angry and wanted us two to be liable for the damages.
So he threatened to fire me and my coworker—but when my coworker told him that he'll have to clean up the mess with only his daughter, the owner suddenly mellowed out. We quit a week later anyway, when we found out that it was the daughter who had let her friends in to steal stuff, and then roughed the place up to make it look like a break in.
The place shut down a few years later because of violations.
Over the first year I worked there, I took over most of the tasks in my department which led to a massive increase in productivity. I then found out that I was being paid significantly less than what others in my position across the industry were making.
So I go to my boss and tell them I had done all this work increasing productivity and I would like to discuss a raise. They said no.
So, I work there for another year, asking for a raise every now and again until I was offered a job somewhere else that paid double. It didn't start for a couple months so I asked for a raise again, thinking "Why the heck why not give it one last try?"
My boss goes off, tells me I won’t get a raise and says some very colorful things about me.
It culminated with her telling me "If you don’t like your pay, maybe we should evaluate your future at this company," to which I replied, "Already have, I took another job and this was your last chance to offer me what I deserve. I quit." I then walked out of that office.
My friends told me that my sudden departure caused a massive backup of work that ended with my manager being fired for it.
We had a guy who made a big deal about his "right" to carry a loaded weapon everywhere he went. He was even once on the local news for carrying a non-concealed pistol into a bank just to "make a point." Firing him had nothing to do with his Second Amendment opinions—he was just unstable on many, many levels. When we said it was not appropriate to bring a weapon to the office, he basically dared us to fire him, claiming it was his constitutional right to do so. So we did fire him.
After we fired him, he came back into work—weapon, as always, on his hip—and simply went back to working as if nothing had ever happened. We had to call the cops.
There is someone in my office who is great at their job, wonderful with people, a fantastic work friend, never complains, and always comes on time—but smells like they haven't showered in months.
Despite several professional mentions of the issue and complaints from peers, they have decided that they won’t do anything about it because they know how valuable they are to the company.
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