My friend is on his way to graduate with PharmD (outside US). He wants to apply for PhD program in US, and have asked his professors that he has worked with in the lab for recommendation letters. However, his professors refused to write him a recommendation letter unless he stays in the lab for 1 more year after graduation to work with the current on-going project (2 of them refused, another one has written him a recommendation letter).
The professor also belittled him when he asked for the recommendation letter, saying things along the line of
Am I, or this university not good enough for you? You must be pompous for wanting to go to another university.
That particular professor has also shared the rumor in the department that he thinks he is too good to be part of this university. In the past, they have offered him PhD program with scholarship, but have later retracted the scholarship so he rejected the offer to stay with them. He needs the recommendation letter to apply for PhD program.
What can he do when professors refuse to write recommendation letter for him unless he works with them longer? He definitely do not want to stay in that toxic environment anymore.
EDIT (12/19): All professors have agreed to write the recommendation letter, as long as my friend writes the draft of the letter himself. He has decided to go with this proposal and wrote three recommendation letters for himself, and gave it to his professors.