Abusive bosses or coworkers–most of us have come across the unpleasantness of workplace bullying to some extent, directly or indirectly. In Time magazine, Adam Cohen points out:
Worker abuse is a widespread problem—in a 2007 Zogby poll, 37% of American adults said they had been bullied at work—and most of it is perfectly legal. Workers who are abused based on their membership in a protected class—race, nationality or religion, among others—can sue under civil rights laws.
Now the “Mommy get the nasty bully off my back” movement could go culture-wide. If a bill passed by the New York senate becomes law, then any employee that feels subjected to “hostile conduct” will find it easier to win monetary judgments for “emotional distress”–plus “punitive damages.” Indiana has also shown a willingness to come to the rescue of workers that haven’t the gumption to solve workplace problems. The state ruled in favor of a $325,000 award to a medical technician that felt “emotional distress” when a surgeon became aggressive during a surgery.
According to Cohen, among the reasons that “workplace bullying may be getting worse now,” is “the decline of organized labor.” Note the phrasing: “may” be getting worse? We mustn’t hold our breath until Cohen proves the claim. Agenda-driven ideologues use the tactic. When the data don’t exist, subtly imply that said data might exist so that the average reader/listener doesn’t catch the ploy.
In Cohen’s view,
Unions were once a worker’s front-line defense against an abusive boss. If a supervisor was out of line, the shop steward would talk to him — on behalf of all of the workers. But union membership has fallen from 35% of the workforce in the 1950s to under 13% today, and some unions are less aggressive than they once were.
Cohen seems to imply that driving the private sector back toward a largely unionized profile would be a good thing. The “solution” would push the thuggery of SEIU, the UAW, and the teachers’ unions throughout all of society to address workplace bullying. Cohen’s final paragraph paints an underlying endgame.
If states enact laws of this kind and lawsuits begin to be filed, juries are far more likely to sympathize with the bullied worker than the bullying boss—and damages awards could be large. There is one easy way for employers to head all of this off: get more serious about rooting out abusive bosses before serious damage is done.
The warning is actually a summation, for Cohen is a lawyer with potential financial interest in seeing the number of lawsuits increase.
The nanny state is taking over our lives.
What happened to confronting the boss, or the boss’s boss? What happened to getting one’s self out of a problem one way or the other? With a bad economy and the low probability of finding another job before quitting the current job, there’s a decision to be made. Make the best of a lousy situation for the sake of income or go unemployed.
Cold logic? Well, consider: How far do we extend Cohen’s litigation rationale? If you don’t get the size of raise that you think you deserve, should you be able to sue? Some ruling class politico, somewhere, is conceiving the necessary legislation.
America was the land of the free and the home of the brave. After a century of ever-growing progressivism, and now with the crowning achievement of the rein of Obama, we are becoming the enclave of the coddled, the stroked, and the home of the wimps who look to nanny to make life fair.