Is the problem with a supervisor in your consulting firm, or with a supervisor in the client’s firm? This makes a big difference. If the later, then have a conversation with your manager (in your company) regarding what is acceptable treatment from clients. If the former, then start documenting and contact your HR department. Legal action is always an option, but it should be a last option.
Also, not to be insensitive, but if you are working as a consultant you may have to ‘toughen up’ a bit. Hired guns are not always treated the best, and without having specific examples it is hard to judge the severity of your treatment.
Well, sure, but you have to show this first. If your boss is actively screwing things up and costing the company money, chances are someone else already knows. If you can document it, great. But if your boss is being a jerk and isn’t really doing anything to the company itself, they won’t care. Unless the boss is standing in front of the press raping kittens, good luck proving he’s putting the company in jeopardy.
I wouldn’t class my boss as a abusive per se, but my method of dealing with her is to avoid seeing or speaking with her as much as possible. Quitting isn’t an option, I couldn’t replace my salary and benefits elsewhere at this point.
Even that depends on the company. At my job, HR is one person, and her only job is to put up job postings and keep track of who works where. She doesn’t have any managerial responsibilities and cannot fire anyone for performance issues. So in my case, if I were to have managerial problems, going to HR would not do anything for me.
Barring going to HR because, as people have said, they may not do anything and it might even make things worse for you, here’s my advice:
You have a right to get feedback on projects and work you do. If he doesn’t give it, be insistent. “Did you get the email with my work I did on Project X? What did you think of my contribution?” If you keep flat-out asking, I think he’d probably run out of evasions at some point.
These are not fair ball at work AT ALL, and my advice here is to call someone on it as soon as they cross that line - “Wait a minute, you just said that I’m a lazy slob. That is not acceptable; please don’t do that again.” Or you could go with the assertive but non-confrontational, “That’s your opinion.” You don’t have to tolerate verbal abuse at any job. We’re not serfs in Feudal England here.
If your supervisor won’t give you feedback even when you specifically request it, and won’t stop making personal comments, you’re back where others have said; find another job or grow a thicker skin. Life’s too short to work for (or with) crazy people.
Sorry, I am dealing with a similar situation (although my supervisor is nowhere near the psycho-bitch yours was), and I’d like to ask what sort of problems? Psychological problems? Problems finding another job because of retaliation by your supervisor? Self-esteem issues?
I’ll be in grad school and/or Korea and far away from this job before the year is out, but I’d be interested to hear the specifics of this if it isn’t too painful.