Legal news and tips for employees, by Law Office of Eugene Lee

‘Desk Rage’ on the Rise

If you thought ‘road rage’ was a problem, make way for ‘desk rage’. According to this Reuters report, "Desk rage spoils workplace for many Americans" , anger in the workplace is on the rise. And it isn’t just about ‘going postal’. The article contains some startling statistics – of the workers who responded to research surveys:

  1. 2%-3% admitted to pushing, slapping or hitting someone at work – amounting to as many as 3 million people out of a total U.S. workforce of 100 million.
  2. Nearly 50% reported yelling and verbal abuse at work
  3. One in four admitted to being driven to tears by abusive behavior at work.
  4. One in six reported anger-induced property damage occurring at work.
  5. One in ten reported physical violence and fear their workplace might not be safe.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) also cites this interesting statistic regarding number of fatal work injuries : In 2006, there were a total of 5,840 fatal workplace injuries. Out of those, 9% were homicides.

Increasing frustration with rising fuel prices and a slowing economy might be one of the reasons for the rise in desk rage. "People are coming to work after a long commute, sitting in traffic watching their discretionary income burn up. They’re ready for a fight or just really upset," said John Challenger of the placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Desk rage alone won’t necessarily create legal liability or justify a lawsuit. You can read about one reason why here, in my post "My Boss, the Equal Opportunity Jerk" . If you are physically or mentally injured by behavior in the workplace, you might have a workers’ compensation claim but that’s about it.

However, you DO have a right to a safe environment. If your physical safety is threatened and management does nothing about it, you may have a case. If you make a complaint to management regarding threats to your physical safety and management actually fires or punishes you for complaining, that could be the basis for a wrongful termination or retaliation claim. When in doubt, talk to a lawyer . The initial consultation is usually free.

For more information, also check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s webpage on Safety and Health Topics: Workplace Violence .

Stay safe out there.

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