Monday, September 03, 2007
A bill in New Jersey would give an individual the right to seek as much as $25,000 in damages if an employer created "an abusive work environment." Similar measures are pending in New York state, Vermont and Washington state. In California, a Sacramento-based group called California Healthy Workplace Advocates is working to revive a sue-the-boss bill that died in committee in 2003.And you can add, "Nobody in his right mind will want to work in management," to the laundry list of unintended, but obvious consequences of passage.
The bills are short on specifics, such as what exactly would constitute an abusive work environment, and their prospects are far from certain. The wisdom of giving employees new grounds to sue is debatable, considering the threat of frivolous court-clogging suits and laws at the federal level and in many states that already protect people against, among other things, sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, race, pregnancy, physical disability and religion. [bold added]
Since when has "being surrounded by pleasant coworkers" (or "having a cool boss") been a right? There is so much wrong with this proposal I don't even know where to begin. Just like anyone else, I've had my share of lousy bosses, but think about this for a moment.
First of all, management isn't easy to begin with. Second, you have a near-infinite variety of potential personality conflicts just waiting to happen even if the boss (or the subordinate) isn't afflicted with difficulty in interpersonal relationships. Third, there would be a huge potential for abuse by the subordinate even if you could somehow define objective criteria for determining what constitutes an "abusive work environment".
This is plainly just another way to redistribute income through the legal system, as implied by the fact that there is no similar legislation in the works to allow bosses to sue particularly troublesome subordinates they can't fire easily. Indeed, the double standard becomes even more obvious when you think of quitting your job as firing your boss (or at least, "letting him go"), which is exactly what it is.
Today: Corrected some typos.