Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, July 19, 2010

When "Sabotgage" Becomes Illegal

I continue to see a number of articles about the need for anti-bullying legislation, much to my dismay. When there is an article about it in the weekly Sunday supplement that's in my local newspaper, you know the movement is gaining traction. See Workplace Bullying: Do We Need a Law?

At least the article had the good sense to include this quote from Victoria Pynchon, who blogs regularly at  Settle It Now Negotiation Blog:
Making a federal or state case over the day-to-day management of any workforce is just plain nuts. At best, it’s a jackhammer solution to an Emily Post problem. At worst, it’s a new scheme for extortion.
What prompted the chain of thought that led to this post was this article from the Official Wire,  California Pizza Kitchen Sued By Former Employee For Harassment And Sabotage Due To Sexual Orientation.

The connection to anti-bullying legislation? Sabotage at work is one of those ills that the statute is designed to protect against. A brochure supporting the Healthy Workplace Bill, includes this definition of bullying:
Verbal abuse, threats, humiliation, intimidation, work interference or sabotage. All of which prevent work from getting done and harm employee health. [emphasis added]
And what kind of allegations might we see in such "sabotage" cases?

Well according to the harassed pizza employee Kenneth Abramowitz it was a homophobic kitchen manager who:
allegedly sabotaged Aramowitz by delaying his food orders, when Abramowitz tried to expedite his customer’s food orders Aguilar would degrade Abramowitz’s homosexuality with verbal and physical slanders.
While I don't want to minimize the problem, and here the verbal abuse might make this a case that would seem actionable, I have griped about slow food service too many times myself to think that it should give rise to a cause of action.

I don't think there is a disagreement that the workplace should be more civil, but adding another layer of legislation is surely not the only way to get there.

He keeps saying and saying and saying .....


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