DEAR ABBY: This is in response to a letter you published from "Bothered Brother," about the way his brother "Mike" treats the employees at their small firm.
Just because Mike is the boss doesn't mean he can be a bully. The highest incidence of workers' compensation lawsuits currently under litigation are: 1) intentional tort; 2) stress, embarrassment, humiliation; 3) violence in the workplace. Since "tort" is defined as damage, injury or a wrongful act done willfully or negligently, the No. 1 reason applies to Mike. Stress, embarrassment and humiliation are a given in this case.
If a supervisor hits or physically abuses an employee, the supervisor and the company can be sued by the employee. In this case, workers' compensation insurance would not protect the company or the owners. It is "Bothered Brother's" responsibility to keep his brother in check because it is his company, too. And all three reasons could be used by a sharp attorney to convince one of the employees to take the company to court. Since Mike throws his tantrums in front of the entire workforce, there are many witnesses -- most of whom have probably been yelled at themselves and who might want to retaliate.
I'm not an attorney, but I am a supervisor of eight people, and I would be fired on the spot if I acted that way at our company. -- CAUTIOUS BOSS IN INDIANAPOLIS
DEAR CAUTIOUS BOSS: Thank you for the input. Your letter may have a chilling effect on more than one hotheaded employer.