Thursday, October 20, 2011

Death, the Workplace and Psychopaths

I was recently made aware of a lawsuit that took place in NJ. To summarize, a woman had a photo in her cubicle of her late daughter, along with a pair of the girl's ballet shoes. Her supervisor told her to remove the items from the cubicle, and that she was no longer permitted to speak of her daughter at work because her daughter was dead. This caused the woman so much stress that she ended up in the hospital and having heart surgery.

She later contacted a lawyer, filed a lawsuit in New Jersey, and, she lost! (You can read the whole original article HERE.)

I am saddened that she lost this lawsuit, not just for her, but for all grieving people. I have a picture of my late husband and me on my desk at work. Many of the people at work have pictures of themselves with their spouses. If I were asked to remove mine, just because he had died, while my co-workers were allowed to keep theirs up, that would probably do a lot of damage to my psyche and set my healing process back by months.

This boss supposedly cited the reason as the photo being disruptive, and that co-workers were complaining that htey were uncomfortable with the photo.

How could a photo possibly be disruptive to the work place? It was not mentioned that she was not performing her duties poorly. And when the lawyer for the woman questioned the co-workers, nobody said that they were uncomfortable. I'm sure that it was the boss that was the one that was uncomfortable, so he took the "bullying" route and eventually caused her to resign.

The following day, I came across an unrelated article that basically states that according to research, 4% of bosses are certifiably psychopaths, while only 1% of the general population is. Also, by definition, a person with a psychopath's personality traits has the same personality traits as those who climb the corporate ladder. (You can read that article HERE.)

After reading the first article about the woman in New Jersey, I was not surprised by this one. That boss HAD to be a psychopath to attack that woman the way he did. We're so worried about bullying in this country among kids, that we forget that it takes place every day in the workplace among adults, and now it is attacking people who are coping with loss. In my opinion, if someone is doing their job effectively, then any family photo is fine in the cubicle.

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