My 13-year-old thought I’d want to know about a hot free app available for my iPhone: Kick the Boss. Knowing what I know about the current state of employment law, is it any wonder that an app allowing you to kick, punch, burn, stab, and flick your boss until he’s gone, and rewarding you with more powers each time you inflict pain on him is one of the most popular games in America?
No doubt about it: the hostility between worker and employer is growing by leaps and bounds. Employers consider employees disposable and treat them like the enemy. Employees no longer think of their jobs as the place they’ll work for life. They know that isn’t going to happen.
If you’re a boss who is surprised at this level of hostility, just think about what’s been going on. No wonder your employees want to kick you around in the virtual world. For employees, here are just some of the reasons why you may want to set your boss on virtual fire.
Facebook passwords: Some companies are demanding Facebook passwords from applicants and employees. There’s no sense of any entitlement to privacy in the corporate world. They want to read your posts and even your private messages.
Reading email: Companies read your emails if you access them at work. Some even use keylogging software to get your passwords and access your most intimate conversations. Use your work computer or work phone to check your messages? Forget privacy. Think front page of the company newsletter.
Criminalization of employment: Employers are coming after employees and former employers with criminal charges, because ruining you financially just isn’t enough anymore. They want your freedom. It’s one thing if an employee stole or embezzled. But these new cases are meant to intimidate employees who leave and work for competitors. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and trade secrets theft are some of the ways employers are trying to criminalize employment law. If employers have their way, they’ll be able to toss you in jail if you quit. Give it another 10 years and maybe the’ll get their way.
At-will firing: Recent cases have shown employees getting fired or disciplined after donating a kidney for their boss, because the employer didn’t like the color of employee shirts, because the employee expressed an unpopular opinion on their own time, and for teaching about discrimination. The fact that your employer can fire you because she woke up in a bad mood or got a terrible cup of coffee adds to the hostility you might be feeling about your work.
Pensions and benefits: Employers are curtailing and playing with benefits. Pension plans get cut or eliminated; health insurance goes to the cheapest plan or is cut. When you’re fired, you lose your health insurance because we’re one of the only industrialized Western countries that ties health insurance to work.
No free speech: You can be fired for criticizing your boss, complaining about ethics and unprofessionalism, reporting a coworker for embezzlement, and for saying anything your boss doesn’t like about politics or world affairs. Zip it if you want to keep your job.
Unemployment discrimination: They can refuse to hire you in most states due to the fact that you’re unemployed. Quit? Good luck finding something out there.
Credit discrimination: Lose your job and get bad credit as a result? Corporate America doesn’t want you anymore. They think if you’re poor you’ll steal from them. They don’t realize you might work harder if you really need the work.
I say go ahead and kick your boss, virtually, that is. It’s good to get out a little bit of frustration, and beats the heck out of going to jail because you took a real 2x4 up against his head. If you’re thinking about beating up the boss, please don’t.
If you’re so frustrated you are thinking about doing real violence, get the heck out of there. Start looking while you still have a job. The jerk isn’t worth your freedom.
Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly.