A lot of people have bad bosses, but other than daydreaming about throwing their golf clubs in the nearest lake, there’s never been much you could do about it. Until now. According to Los Angeles Times, lawmakers in New Jersey are proposing a bill that would allow employees to sue for as much as $25,000 if an employer creates "an abusive work environment.” Similar measures have been proposed in New York, Vermont and Washington state. Though none of the measures has actually defined what an “abusive environment” actually means.
So, what’s the deal with the bullying and badgering bosses? Some experts think it’s partly because short-staffed companies are hiring more managers with lousy people skills. Younger workers, who are used to being unnecessarily praised by their parents, can’t take being browbeaten, and Baby Boomers, who are too close to retirement to put up with a bad boss, are more likely to complain or quit than to suffer in silence. Critics wonder, is it really a good idea to give employees new grounds to sue? After all, the courts are clogged with frivolous lawsuits and there are laws already on the books that protect against harassment and discrimination.
Still, the complaints continue. Last year, the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions, launched the “My Bad Boss Contest” to give workers an opportunity to get their bad-boss experiences off their chests. Some entries included the lawyer who called the office every morning to give instructions as he did his “business” in the bathroom. A worker whose office was so cold that the ink in his pen froze, so his boss told him to use a pencil and another boss who offered to buy lunch for everyone in the office – but his idea of a free lunch was to take them to a discount warehouse to gorge on free food samples. This year’s winners included a boss who threw out the paperwork when an ailing worker filed for disability and a manager who ordered an employee to man the company “help desk” while the building was on fire.