Hello, dear readers! Here are several items of possible interest:
Alternet on alleged workplace bullying by taser in Texas
A claim of workplace bullying by taser is a first in my recollection, but here goes. Rod Bastanmehr reports for Alternet on a Texas man who has filed a lawsuit claiming he was repeatedly abused at work:
Bradley Jones, a 45-year-old Texas man is suing Republican state lawmaker Patricia Harless and her husband over what he cites as months of attacks and abuse while working for them. The couple owns Fred Finger Motors, which Jones has worked at since 2009, and are now facing assault and battery charges, as well as failure to provide a safe workplace.
. . . Jones’s suit argues that Sam Harless provided other employees with a taser, and that Harless would often film them sneaking up and using it on him. The series of incidents lasted over a period of nine months, with many of the videos posted online (though they have since been taken down).
MainStreet on workplace bullying
Susan Kreimer serves up a terrific overview of workplace bullying for MainStreet. Gary Namie (Workplace Bullying Institute), Pam Lutgen-Sandvik (North Dakota St U), and I were interviewed for it. Here’s a piece of my advice for bullying targets:
Because bullying situations and work environments vary, so do the strategies for self-defense. Employees who feel targeted “should read up on workplace bullying, try to understand what’s happening to them, avoid making rash decisions or engaging in reckless responses that may backfire, and instead attempt to assess their options carefully after doing their homework,” Yamada says.
NPR on how power can short circuit empathy
Here’s a piece that’s relevant to bullying bosses and nasty CEOs. Chris Benderev reports for National Public Radio on a new study by Canadian researchers showing how power changes brain responses:
Even the smallest dose of power can change a person. You’ve probably seen it. Someone gets a promotion or a bit of fame and then, suddenly, they’re a little less friendly to the people beneath them.
So here’s a question that may seem too simple: Why?
…[I]f you ask Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, he might give you another explanation: Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.
Obhi and his colleagues, Jeremy Hogeveen and Michael Inzlicht, have a new study showing evidence to support that claim.
ProPublica on unpaid interns & sexual harassment protections
Blair Hickman and Christie Thompson write for ProPublica (here, via Salon magazine) on how unpaid interns are unprotected by federal discrimination and sexual harassment laws. They interviewed me for the piece:
In 1994, Bridget O’Connor began an internship at Rockland Psychiatric Center, where one of the doctors allegedly began to refer to her as Miss Sexual Harassment, told her that she should participate in an orgy, and suggested that she remove her clothing before meeting with him. Other women in the office made similar claims.
Yet when O’Connor filed a lawsuit, her sexual harassment claims were dismissed because she was an unpaid intern. A federal appeals court affirmed the decision to throw out the claim.
Unpaid interns miss out on wages and employment benefits, but they can also find themselves in “legal limbo” when it comes to civil rights, according to law professor and intern labor rights advocate David Yamada. The O’Connor decision (the leading ruling on the matter, according to Yamada) held that because they don’t get a paycheck, unpaid interns are not “employees” under the Civil Rights Act – and thus, they’re not protected.
So here’s the twist that I explain in greater detail in my 2002 law review article on the rights of interns: Employers who violate minimum wage laws by failing to compensate their interns can then turn around and claim insulation from sexual harassment claims by saying that because the interns aren’t paid, they have no standing to sue under the federal employment discrimination laws!
TMZ Sports on an all-star lawsuit
TMZ Sports reports on a lawsuit brought against Major League Baseball for failure to pay some 2,000 people who :
Major League Baseball put roughly 2,000 people to work during All-Star weekend in NYC last month and illegally paid them with giveaway items like shirts and hats INSTEAD of cash, so says a new lawsuit.
. . . In the suit, John Chen says he worked 17 hours in 4 days at the All-Star Weekend festival — doing everything from stamping wrists to stuffing flyers into bags and even filing paperwork … all assignments that would otherwise have to be done by paid employees.
. . . Basically, Chen believes the concept of a “volunteer” workforce violates federal and state labor laws — and the “volunteers” should be paid at least minimum wage … which, in NY, is $7.25 per hour.
This is a spin on the unpaid intern issue, but it carries slightly different implications. Surely Major League Baseball can afford to pay these people the minimum wage for their work on this lucrative, marquee event. In addition, it also says something troubling about the willingness of people to provide free labor to a wealthy, profit-making organization. Is it the appeal of basking in the reflected glow of athletic and celebrity glory?
I recently posted a draft of a new essay, “If It Matters, Write About It: Using Legal Scholarship to Effect Social Change,” which will be published in a new student periodical at Suffolk University Law School to which I’m serving as faculty advisor. Here’s the abstract, and go here to download the essay:
This essay centers on the concept of “intellectual activism,” discussing how legal scholarship can be used as the foundation for social change work. It recounts and reflects upon the author’s ongoing work in advancing issues such as workplace bullying and the rights of student interns. It concludes with advice on how to be effective in an intellectual activist mode. The essay will be published in the inaugural issue of Bearing Witness: A Journal of Law and Social Responsibility, a new student-run periodical at Suffolk University Law School.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 9