May 20th, 2013

Corporate defense attorneys who deny workplace bullying happens

Here are the “lessons” about workplace bullying that a 24-yr. veteran corporate employment attorney (and self-described Machiavellian) chose to impart on lucky me during a recent flight between gigs.

I pass along his major teachings to you, the WBI reader, so you know the type of legal opponent, as plaintiff, you will face if you ever decide to sue your employer in court.

He believes:

1. HR has known about, and has dealt successfully with, workplace bullying for over 20 years.

2. The prevalence of harassment and bullying are exaggerated, overestimated.

3. Claims of bullying are made by workers who refuse to be assigned work or told to perform when management knows they are goofing off.

4. Bullying and all employee relations are in the HR domain. Executive leaders are much too busy to be bothered by such mundane topics as workplace violence occurring on their watch.

5. Executives demand that their managers treat workers fairly. Good management is the rule. Bad bosses are the rare exception. It only makes good business sense.

6. Large companies are smart. They purge the “jerkwads” because of the risk they pose. Executives can’t stand them and HR gets rid of them.

7. In France, no employee can be fired. Companies are hiring temps to avoid regular employees.

8. Nine out of 10 complaints of mistreatment by workers are bogus, lies and exaggerations of real events.

9. Claims of abuse or bullying are cover-ups for poor performing workers not able or willing to do their jobs.

10. When this attorney worked in the EEOC prior to his corporate practice, he found that 90% of those cases also lacked merit. And that percentage is still true of cases filed.

11. Because the vast majority of cases are frivolous, he easily wins by summary judgment to kill cases as granted by the courts.

12. Attorneys who represent workers (the plaintiffs bar) are all liars.

13. Media love to sensationalize stories of abuse at work when in fact they do not happen.

14. If the person who complains is the only one to define her or his experience as bullying or abuse when no one else does, it is just that one person’s subjective experience and it is not to be believed. That person has personal issues with being too sensitive (or is simply lying).

15. Employers are forced, by sniveling-scheming-lying-sue-crazy employees to mount expensive legal defenses. This makes for lots of work for the fellow who sat in my row.

16. Money spent on defense lawyers by employers could have gone into hiring American workers, but now companies must go to other countries to operate outside the onerous burden of U.S. employment law that gives workers power over employers.

17. Costs of frivolous lawsuits prevent companies from innovating or being competitive in global markets.

18. Those damn worker lawsuits raise the price of products and services because employers have to recoup their losses somehow.

19.Workers who sue for harassment get settlements (for example, $50,000) after the firm pays the defense attorneys much more because the insurance companies (large firms have Employment Practices Liability Insurance to cover litigation costs associated with discrimination-related cases) want to settle and payout.

20. It’s easy for workers to find physicians who will, for a fee, write reports contending that the worker is injured or harmed when that is not the case.

21. The sooner America becomes completely an employment-at-will nation (no unions or bargained contracts giving employees a say in their work conditions), the better.

22. The #1 union prevention tactic that employers use is to compel their managers to treat workers fairly so there can never be a reason to have a union. It’s not about compensation, benefits, pensions or job security — people want unions when they are mistreated.

23. There is no need for the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill. Current laws and policies are adequate.

24. The valuable service corporate attorneys provide to employers is to keep them out of court. They promote prevention of mistreatment and work to “fix” the “jerkwads” or drive them out to save clients money, time and exposure to the risk of litigation.

25. If the HWB ever becomes law, it will simply make corporate defense attorneys like him richer. So, go ahead and pass the bill, it keeps folks like him on contract with employers.

Here was a man blind to the unconscionable abuse people are asked to suffer. He convinced himself long ago that if bad things happen to people at work it is their imagination.

I encounter people like him in cases for which I provide expert witness services and I read works by his ilk. However, I faced a first class BULLY APOLOGIST up close and personal. People who agree with him may constitute the majority of Americans. When we change the positions of people like him, we can declare America has reached its tipping point, its sea change moment.

Makes me want to wish that bullying finds him so he can fully grasp the impact of dehumanization he thinks does not occur. But that would too mean — even for a guy like that.


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This entry was posted on Monday, May 20th, 2013 at 8:11 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. kachina2 says:

    A real Machiavellian knows he operates on cunning, duplicity, and bad faith. This poor guy is just delusional. It is generally not a good idea to argue with a delusional individual about their delusions…it only serves to entrench their misguided ideas when they feel compelled to defend them.
    I’m not sure that efforts to convert or enlighten such are worthwhile…experience is the best teacher for those with closed minds and authoritarian leanings.

  2. Michelle Williams says:

    Bullying in the work place does indeed exist, and those that believe it does not are either oblivious to their surroundings or are bullies themselves.

  3. CJC says:

    Have they searched the internet for articles, comments? It is rampant especially since the economy went down. Look at the military now dealing with its “bullying” which has gone on for years. What goes around will come around. We all have to put the words into the universe that this will not be tolerated any more. Somehow this has to stop but then again the bullies in the workplace are the parents of the bullies on the playground.

  4. NdBloom says:

    In my last job I often wished I could videotape what went on, because I was certain no one would believe me if I told them.

    @ Michelle: The executive and managerial staff who thrived and advanced in the company I worked for were the ones who seemed oblivious to the antics of the bullies or even joined forces with them. Although the biggest bullies weren’t in supervisory or managerial roles, they exercised a lot of influence in the company so that the supervisors, managers and executives who didn’t meet their approval were dismissed. Some of the top executives were rarely in the office and those who were usually worked behind closed doors.

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