Beyond Traditional Tort Law, 'Desk Rage' is Now a Potential Claim
Although not recognized as a cause of action in most jurisdictions, “desk rage”—i.e., abusive or threatening conduct at the workplace—is a growing problem and a growing concern to employers and the lawyers who advise them.
At its worst, the occupational violence that can result from stressed and angry employees facing increasing pressures in a difficult economy can be deadly. But even when the problem is relatively minimal, it can result in reduced productivity and increased attrition, according to a New York Law Journal article reprinted by New York Lawyer (reg. req.).
At the forefront of avant-garde jurisdictions recognizing such conduct as potentially actionable, the Indiana Supreme Court held earlier this year in Raess v. Doescher, 883 N.E.2d 709l, that “workplace bullying” can create a valid basis for an employee to sue an employer, the article reports. The court ratified a $325,000 award to a hospital technician whose supervising surgeon, who had a history as a “workplace abuser,” confronted him with “clenched fists, piercing eyes, beet-red face [and] popping veins.”
Additional details about the case are provided in an article on the Jackson Lewis law firm website. “The court’s opinion may provide plaintiffs an additional opportunity to pursue claims beyond traditional harassment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,” the article notes.