Dish Network: The Worst Place to Work in America

Most people have a gripe or two about the companies that employ them: they’re overworked and underpaid–and someone’s always stealing their lunch out of the communal fridge!

During the recession, those lucky enough to hold down their jobs have often been subject to pay cuts, less vacation time, reduced benefits, changes to 401k matching and the like. But when your employees describe your company as a “poisonous work environment” and even those in top positions feel their souls are being sucked out by Dementors, there may be a deeper problem than simple bottom-line management.

This seems to be the case for Dish Network, the second-largest satellite TV provider in the US, which was recently named the worst company to work for in America by 24/7 Wall St thanks, in part, to anonymous employee reviews on

On a scale of 1 to 5, current and former employees gave Dish an average rating of 2.2. Their most common complaints were long hours, lack of paid holidays, poor chances of promotion and too much mandatory overtime.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, when one unhappy employee sought advice from his manager, he was told, “You’re part of a poisonous environment … go find a job where you can use your talents for good rather than evil”. Yeah, that’s not a good sign.

Complaints don’t just come from workers on the low end of the corporate totem pole: Several ex-employees say that it wasn’t uncommon to see founder and chairman Charlie Ergen publicly berate an executive for arriving to work a few minutes late–even if that person had just spent the previous 12 hours working through the night at home.

Judianne Atencio, who served as head of communications for a decade, said of her time at Dish: “I didn’t have a life for 10 years…I couldn’t even have a dog”. She went onto admit that there were occasions when Ergen screamed at her so loudly that she actually packed up her things, left, and had to be persuaded to return from the parking lot by a board member.

And don’t think these employees are exaggerating Dish’s disregard for the wallets and work/life balance of its workforce. During a quarterly meeting a few years ago, Ergen, frustrated that some employees couldn’t make it to work on time during snow storms, suggested that employees book hotel rooms (at their own expense) whenever the forecast called for snow.

So is all of this bad press hurting Dish Network? Sadly, it seems the answer is “not yet”. The company isn’t scheduled to report its earnings until February 22, but its share price was up more than 30 percent for most of 2012, and its earnings have beaten estimates for five of the last eight quarters.

But there is an upside — Some disgruntled employees did find it in their hearts to list “pros” in their scathing reviews. Examples include the fact “That it [Dish] pays in American dollars, not Mexican Pesos” and that “The company is always hiring due to their draconian policies and heavy-handedness.”

PR win!