Your odds of encountering at least one difficult boss are high as a hardworking Florida employee. Whether you end up with the boss that forces you to answer work-related phone calls after hours or the boss that berates you in front of your fellow employees, you aren’t alone in your struggle. In fact, bad bosses are so common there are laws in place to protect employees from certain behaviors. If your boss leaves you feeling dejected, disrespected, or demeaned, you may have the power to do something about it. Here’s how to effectively deal with a nightmare employer.

Keep Your Head Down

If you have a low-caliber jerk boss you can more or less deal with, the best advice may be to simply do your job, keep your head down, and try to avoid contact with that boss as much as possible. This might be the best solution if your boss is rude or difficult but generally doesn’t interfere with your ability to work, or your job satisfaction.

A power-hungry boss, for example, may leave you alone once you show him/her you aren’t there to butt heads. This could also be wise if you hardly have to see your jerk boss, and you usually work with a friendlier supervisor or shift manager. Sometimes it’s better to just ignore your boss and try to get on with your life – unless the situation gets more serious.

Say Something to Your Boss

If your boss is problematic enough to hurt your feelings, embarrass you, make you feel inferior, or otherwise make you dread going to work, consider saying something to your boss about his/her negative behaviors. Talking to your boss directly about the issue can seem intimidating, but it may be the fastest way to resolve the problem. Some jerk bosses don’t realize how their words and actions come off to employees, or may not know how deeply they’re impacting the workplace. A conversation between you and your boss (with witnesses present) may be just the thing to clear up miscommunications.

Take Your Issue to HR

Should a conversation with your boss go badly or be out of the question, your next step is to go to Human Resources (HR). The HR department should have procedures in place for dealing with a boss who has stepped on your rights or made you feel uncomfortable in some way. HR may deal directly with the boss on your behalf, acting to penalize inappropriate behaviors or institute changes in your workplace. Document your complaints with HR and any conversations you have with your boss about the issue for future reference.

File a Complaint With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If you believe your boss’s behavior has crossed the line from bad to illegal, file an official charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This may be appropriate if your boss has discriminated against you for your race, religion, sex, gender, age, or another protected class, as well as if your boss has made unwelcome sexual advances or otherwise sexually harassed you. These are serious behaviors that require official action. The EEOC can investigate your boss and suggest remedies.

Know When to Consult With an Attorney

Sometimes a jerk boss isn’t breaking any rules, but is just plain mean or difficult to work with. In these cases, you may not have grounds to go to HR or file a complaint. Try to laugh the situation off or not let it get to you. Otherwise, protect your legal rights with help from an attorney.

Consulting with an attorney is the right choice if your boss has harassed you, discriminated against you, or retaliated against you for whistleblowing. A lawyer may be able to fight against your boss and win compensation for your related damages. When you need advice about your jerk boss, talk to a lawyer. Most give free first consultations.