There’s the great scene in the movie “Network” that features the line – “I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take it Anymore!”.
After 12 days without power, that’s a message that is resonating with me quite loudly.
But this is an employment law blog and there’s a message there for employers too.
In fact, at one of the programs I attended at last week for the ABA Labor & Employment Annual Conference, the discussion focused on notions of anger, revenge, and “retaliation” and how they are very “human” reactions. This comes up in two ways:
1) Retaliation cases for employers are difficult to defend for this reason: People tend to assume that an employer WOULD retaliate if a claim of discrimination was made against it. Thus, the employer has to overcome that presumption in lawsuits. It’s easiest by showing that the employer didn’t know about the discrimination claim at all.
2) But anger and revenge comes up in another way too. One judge was quick to point out that individuals often sue when they are angry and when they don’t feel like they are treated fairly. That doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it is built up over a period of time when people feel like their complaints aren’t heard and supervisors or managers aren’t being responsive. (If you’ve tried calling the power company the last week, you know what I mean.)
In fact, the conference speaker noted that the anger that some employees feel can sometimes last for years. And his citation for that assertion? “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, of course, where Khan tells Captain Kirk that “revenge is a dish best served cold”.
For me, I’m sure I’ll get power eventually. But for employers, you may have employees who have built up anger over years because of the way they feel mistreated. The key for employers is to recognize those situations and defuse them where possible.
Of course, you could also just learn the lesson from the comedy, “Spaceballs” and the incomparable Mel Brooks. The key quote there? “Never underestimate the power of the Schwartz.”
If only that power could light my house.