“Luddite” Movement. Today the key word
is “Faster! Faster!” It’s enough to unhinge
someone, and that is exactly what can happen in the 21st century workplace. That is
why workers formed unions and went on
strike, and why those strikes caused disasters when the bosses fought the strikers.
Consider the Homestead Steel strike in
1892, the Pullman strike of 1893 or the
Chicago Haymarket riots of 1886.
Today, workers have more protection
from abuses by employers and a right to
bring suit. Lawsuits can be brought for
wrongful termination, and discrimination due to religion, race, sex, age or dis-abilities. Now, says Stafford in a separate
article, “Employee lawsuits alleging ‘
family responsibilities discrimination’ are
growing at a faster rate than any other
kind of employment discrimination….”
She cites a study by the Center for Work
Life Law, affiliated with the Hastings College of Law, University of California.
It is not only because of all the newborn babies, but also the need for elder
care for parents, failure to provide accommodations due to pregnancy, and other
needs that modern society places on the
family, especially single-parent families.
There are still enough job pressures
that may cause an employee to “snap” and
start firing a gun at co-workers and bosses, and then the public and the police. Ultimately, it is left to adjusters to pick up
the pieces of workers’ compensation, employer liability, general liability and employment practices liability claims, plus
loss of business income, while the police
tape off the scene for investigation.
Although there seems to be an epidemic of violence, maybe it is more due to
media coverage than actuality; nevertheless, the violence is out there and needs to
Ken Brownlee, CPCU, is a former adjuster
and risk manager based in Atlanta, Ga.
He now authors and edits claims-adjusting
textbooks. Opinions expressed in this
article are the author’s own.
Is Trouble Brewing in the Workplace?
By the time this article is pub- lished the election will either be at hand or already over, and break-room arguments between
those for Trump and those for Hillary
will soon be forgotten as Thanksgiving
approaches. Sometimes, unfortunately,
the arguments are about things other
than politics, and the results can be nasty.
Think your co-worker might be a terrorist (ISIS or domestic)? Should you tell
someone? Your boss might think you’re
nuts, not helpful for your career; or she
might agree and fire the guy, who will then
sue the company for wrongful termination, slander, defamation and a dozen other charges. Your boss won’t like that either.
“In hindsight, after all-too-often in-
stances of workplace violence, co-work-
ers describe the perpetrators as angry, as
loners, as bullies, as misfits. Rarely was
the ‘snap’ point predicted. But sometimes
it was presaged,” wrote Diane Stafford of
the Kansas City Star last July. “And that
raises questions for all of us in the work-
place: Should we ‘tattle’ if we just think
someone might do something awful?
How bad should hate speech be before we
report it? And to whom?”
In 2016, there were a growing number
of both domestic and religious terrorist
acts that resulted in hundreds of deaths,
both in the U.S. and around the world.
Not all were caused by religious fanatics;
some were just a ‘loner’ gone berserk with
an automatic weapon.
Arguments over gun control might
even trigger a gun attack. Gun control,
climate change, the minimum wage, any
of these could be an issue that triggers an
outburst from someone. It’s called “going
postal,” referencing a number of employ-ment-related shootings in the previous
decade that occurred in the U.S. Postal
Service. It wasn’t the long-suffering customer waiting in line to mail a package
who went berserk with an AK-47.
There have been disputes between employees and employers over a variety of
subjects for millennium. Even the Bible
tells of disgruntled employees who were
paid the agreed amount for a day’s work,
then discovered that workers hired at the
last minute who had only worked for an
hour were paid the same amount. It was
old Ned Ludd, fed up with the steam engines that ran the looms at a faster rate
than the workers could tolerate, who took
an ax to the looms and gave birth to the