I read an interesting post from Jerry Pounds at Management Issues. In short, the issue of intentional emotional distress can now carry a hefty penalty, at least in the US.
A hospital maintenance worker was recently awarded an $11.65 million jury verdict in Federal District court in Chicago against his employer for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In an article in HR Magazine, Jathan Janove reports an increase in employee suits related to "discharge, demotion, pay cuts and other adverse employment actions."
According to Janove, employees sue not because of the specific action but because of the emotions created by the "perceived insult."
According to a 1999 study in Ohio, "employees who were not treated with dignity and respect were 35 times more likely to file claims (emotional injury) than those who were." Employee anger becomes employer litigation; a threat to employer liability and a risk management nightmare.
No doubt organisations will find this a challenge to react to and successfully meet. As Jerry writes;
For decades, the American worker has suppressed their anger about indignities and disrespect experienced because of an anachronistic class system perpetuated by inadequate leadership models. They harbored a burning anger that is finally finding expression and recourse in a sympathetic generation of judges and jurors.