How headlines mislead: The $4.7 million “workplace bullying case”

Minding the Workplace

Yesterday I received multiple e-mails alerting me to a jury verdict awarding some $4.7 million to an employee in a “workplace bullying case.” In fact, this is the headline that blared from a legal compliance site:

Federal Jury Awards $4.7 Million in Workplace Bullying Case

The accompanying summary by Marjorie Richter says more about the case. Here’s the lede:

An employee of a Brooklyn, New York clothing store was awarded $4.7 million by a federal jury after being repeatedly bullied by a co-worker and ultimately physically attacked. The award was for assault, emotional distress, negligence in the employer’s hiring of the bully and punitive damages.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff, a Yemen-born stock clerk, was bullied by a security guard at the store, who repeatedly called the plaintiff “bin Laden” and used other religious, racial and ethnic slurs throughout the plaintiff’s employment at the store. The security guard…

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