, Professor, Nova Southeastern University, USA
, Professor, Nova Southeastern University, USA
, Assistant Professor, Nova Southeastern University, USA
, Adjunct Professor, Nova Southeastern University, USA
The common law tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) is a frequently occurring lawsuit. It seems that in almost every wrongful discharge suit by a terminated employee at-will, or lawsuit to redress bullying-like conduct at work, or lawsuit pursuant to civil rights act for discrimination or harassment there appears a count for the IIED tort. As such, there are many, many IIED cases; however, this article demonstrates that there are only a handful of cases that are successful due to the various elements to the tort as well as the high evidentiary hurdles to sustain those elements. This article explicates the elements of the tort and illustrates those elements in the context of wrongful discharge, bullying, and discrimination/harassment lawsuits. The authors discuss the implications of the tort, particularly for management; and provide recommendations to employers on how to avoid liability, especially by bully-proofing the organization, and also to employees on how to sustain an IIED cause of action.
Keywords: tort, intentional infliction, emotional distress, mental anguish, harassment, bullying, discharge, employment, employer, employee, management.
JEL Classification: J5, E24, K13.
Cite as: Cavico, F. J., Mujtaba, B. G., Lawrence, E. T., Muffler, S. (2018). Examining the Efficacy of the Common Law Tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Bullying in the Context of the Employment Relationship. Business Ethics and Leadership, 2(2), 14-31. DOI: 10.21272/bel.2(2).14-31.2018
- Araiza, William D. (2017). Samuel Alito, Populist. Cornell University Law Review, 103, 101-133.
- Agarwal v. Johnson, 603 P. 2d 58 (California Supreme Court 1979).
- Balcerzak, J.G. (2015). Workplace bullying: Clinical and organizational perspectives. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
- Broward County of Florida (2008). Policy 5.9: Anti-Bullying. AUTHORITY: F.S. 1006.147. POLICY ADOPTED AS AMENDED: 7/22/08.
- Burnett v. AM. Federation of Government Employees, 102 F. Supp. 3d 183 (D.C. District 2015).
- Borstein, Stephanie (2014). Reckless Discrimination. California Law Review, 105, 1055-1108.
- Brown v. Kourentsos, (2016). U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77727; No. 15 C 11076 (N.D. Ill. 2016).
- Cavico, Frank J. (2003). The Tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in the Private Employment Sector. Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal, 21(1), 109-182.
- Cavico, Frank J. and Mujtaba, Bahaudin G. (2014). Legal Challenges for the Global Manager and Entrepreneur (Second Edition). Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
- Chen, L. Y., Mujtaba, B. G. and Heron, T. W. (2011). Utilizing computer-based scenarios to explore idealism and relativism influences on perceptions of Ethics and Social Responsibilities and ethical decision-making. International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, 6(4), 359–384.
- Coenen, Dan T. (2017). Freedom of Speech and the Criminal Law. Boston University Law Review, 97, 1533-1604.
- Cruz v. English Nanny & Governess School, Inc. et. al., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 2231; 2017 Ohio 4176 (Ct. App. 2017).
- De La Campa v. Grifols America, Inc., 819 So. 2d 940 (Florida Court of Appeals 2002). Nicholas DeLucia, et al. v. Great Stuff, Inc., et al., 2015 Del. Super. LEXIS 474 (2015).
- Edelman, P. J., & van Knippenberg, D. (2017). Training leader emotion regulation and leadership effectiveness. Journal of Business and Psychology, 32(6), 747-757. DOI:10.1007/s10869-016-9471-8
- Einarsen, S. & Nielsen, M. (2014). Workplace bullying as an antecedent of mental health problems: a ﬁve-year prospective and representative study. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.
- Gillespie v. City of Battle Creek, 100 F. Supp. 3d 623, 628 (District Court for the Western District of Michigan 2015).
- Grost M.D. vs. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. Lexis 112590 (District Court for the Western District of Texas 2015).
- Guobadia v. Irowa, 103 F. Supp. 3d 325 (District Court for the Eastern District of New York 2015).
- Hansen v. SkyWest Airlines, 844 F.3d 914 (Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit 2016).
- Harvey, M. Heims, J., Richey, R., and Leonard, N. (2006). Bullying: From the playground to the boardroom. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 12(4), 1-9.
- Healthy Workplace Bill (2017). The Healthy Workplace Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2018 from: http://healthyworkplacebill.org.
- Hellner, Bobby and Atwood, Jennifer (2017). Put Up Your Dukes: Are Anti-Bullying Measures in Conflict with Free Speech? Legislators and the Courts May Be At Odds. Professional Times, 1(2), 29-33.
- Hercule v. Wendy’s of N.E. Florida, Inc., 201 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54659 (District Court for the Southern District of Florida 2010).
- Hood, A. C., Cruz, K. S., & Bachrach, D. G. (2017). Conflicts with friends: A multiplex view of friendship and conflict and its association with performance in teams. Journal of Business and Psychology, 32(1), 73-86. DOI:10.1007/s10869-016-9436-y.
- Hua, Winhkong (2017). Cybermobs, Civil Conspiracy, and Tort Liability. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 44, 1217-1266.
- Jones, Trina and Jade Norwood, Kimberly (2017). Aggressive Encounters and White Fragility: Deconstructing the Trope of the Angry Black Woman. Iowa Law Review, 201, 2017-2068.
- King, E., Dawson, J., Jensen, J., & Jones, K. (2017). A socioecological approach to relational demography: How relative representation and respectful coworkers affect job attitudes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 32(1), 1-19. DOI:10.1007/s10869-016-9439-8.
- Koutsouradis v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 427 F.3d 1339 (Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals 2005).
- Kubler v. Heritage Automotive Group, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. Lexis 187998 (2017).
- Langos, Colette and Giancaspro, Mark (2017). Empowering Workers: Avenues of Legal Redress for Victims of Workplace Cyberbullying. Australian Business Law Review, 45, 1-23.
- Lee v. West Kern Water Dist., 5 Cal. App. 5th 606 (California Court of Appeals 2016).
- Leymann, H. (1990). Mobbying and psychological terror at workplaces. Violence and Victims, 5(2), 115-126.
- Liberty Mutual Insurance Company v. Steadman, 968 So. 2d 592 (Florida Court of Appeals 2007).
- Lola, Christine R. (2017). Low-Wage Workers and Bullying in the Workplace: How Current Workplace Harassment Law Makes the Most Vulnerable Invisible. 14 Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal, pp. 231f.
- Marzano v. Struthers City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 2017-Ohio-7768, 2017 Ohio App. Lexis 4113 (Ohio Ct. App. 2017).
- McDonald, D. N., Brown, E.D., Smith, K. F. (2015). Workplace Bullying: A Review of Its Impact on Businesses, Employees, and the Law. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 6(2), 2219-6021; www.ijbssnet.com ISSN 2219-1933.
- McClean v. Pine Eagle School District No. 61, 194 F. Supp. 3d 1102 (District Court for the District of Oregon 2016).
- McMiller v. Precision Metal Products, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. Lexis 107785 (D. Conn. 2015).
- Morris, Sarah E. (2016). Tackling Workplace Bullying in Tort: Emerging Extreme and Outrageous Conduct Test Averts Need for Statutory Solution. ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, 31, 257-294.
- Malphurs v. Cooling Towers Systems, Inc., No. 17-10170, Unpublished Opinion (11th Cir. 2017), 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 18005 (2017).
- McManus v. Auchincloss, 353 P.3d 17, 271 Or. App. 765 (Oregon Court of Appeals 2015).
- Mujtaba, B. G. (2014). Managerial Skills and Practices for Global Leadership. ILEAD Academy: Florida.
- Mujtaba, B. G., Tajaddini, R. and Chen, L. Y. (2011). Business Ethics Perceptions of Public and Private Sector Iranians. Journal of Business Ethics, 104(3), 433-447. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-011-0920-z.
- Mujtaba, B. G. (2011). Stress Perceptions and Diversity Management: a Study of Respondents in India and the United States based on Gender, Age, Education, and Nationality. International Journal of Management and Administrative Sciences, 1(1), 08-22.
- Namie, Gary (November/December 2003). Workplace bullying: Escalated incivility. Ivey Business Journal, pp. 1-6.
- Namie, Gary and Yamda, David C. (2017). The Healthy Workplace Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2018 from: http://healthyworkplacebill.org.
- Oliver v. Walmart Stores East, LP et al., 2017 Conn. Super. Lexis 4268 (Superior Court of Connecticut 2017).
- Pagnattaro, M. A. (2015). The OUTRAGEOUS Tort: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in the Workplace. Journal of Legal Studies in Business, 8, 137-54.
- Pelletier, P. (2015). Workplace bullying: It’s just bad for business. Prevention, management & elimination for organizations and everyone else. Vancouver, Canada: Diversity Publishing.
- Powers, J. L, Brotheridge, C. M, Blenkinsopp, J., Bowes-Sperry. L., Bozionelos, N., Buzady, Z., Chuang, A., Drnevich, D., Garzon-Vico, A., Leighton, C., Madero, S. M., Mak, W., Mathew, R., Monserrat, S. I., Mujtaba, B. G., Olivas-Lujan, M. R., Polychroniou, P., Sprigg, C. A., Axtell, C., Holman, D. Ruiz-Gutierrez, J.A., and Obiajulu Nnedum, A. U. (2013). Acceptability of workplace bullying: A comparative study on six continents. Journal of Business Research, 66(1), 374-380.
- Rappaport, John (2017). How Private Insurers Regulate Public Police. Harvard Law Review, 130, 1539-1613.
- Restatement (Third) of Torts: Liability for Physical and Emotional Harm, Section 46 (American Law Institute 2012).
- Richardson, Rickey E., Hall, Reggie, and Joiner, Sue (2016). Workplace Bullying in the United States: An analysis of state court cases. Cogent Business & Management, 3(1). Retrieved January 16, 2018 from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311975.2016.
- Seibert v. Jackson County, Mississippi et.al, 851 F.3d 430 (Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit 2017).
- Society for Human Resource Management (June 12, 2017). Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture. Retrieved from: www.shrm.org.
- Stein, Alex (2017). The Domain of Torts. Columbia Law Review, 117, 535-610.
- Thomas v. Hospital Board of Directors of Lee County, 41 So. 3d 246 (Florida Court of Appeals 2010).
- Thomas v. Stars Entertainment, LLC, No. 2: 15-cv-09239-CAS-AFM (C.D. Cal. 2017); 2016 U.S. Dist. Lexis 25472 (2016).
- U.S. Department of Education (2018). Office of Civil Rights. Sexual Harassment: It’s Not Academic. Retrieved May 31, 2018 from: https://www2ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docsocrshpam.htm.
- U.S. Department of Education (2015). Office of Civil Rights. Title IX and Sex Discrimination. Retrieved May 31, 2018 from: https://www2.ed/gov/about/offices/lists/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html.
- U.S. Department of Justice (2018). Overview of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Retrieved May 31, 2018 from: https://www.justice.gov/crt/overviwe-title-ix-education-amendments-1972.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2018), Facts About Sexual Harassment. Retrieved May 31, 2018 from: https://www1.eeoc.gov//laws/types/sexual_harasssment.cfm.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2018), Sexual Harassment. Retrieved May 31, 2018 from: https://www1.eeoc.gov//eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1990). Policy Guidance on Current Issues of Sexual Harassment. Retrieved May 31, 2018 from: https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/currentissues.html.
- Van v. Language Line Services, Inc., No. 14-CV-03791-LHK (District Court for the Northern District of California 2016); 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73510 (2016).
- Willis v. Gami Golden Glades, LLC, 967 So. 2d 846 (Supreme Court of Florida 2007).
- Workplace Bullying Institute (2017). Our Organization. Retrieved January 17, 2018 from: http://www.workplacebullying.org.
- Workplace Ethics Advice (October 26, 2016). The Rise of Cyberbullying in the Workplace. Retrieved from www.worplaceethicsadvice.com.
- Zabel, K. L., Biermeier-Hanson, B. B., Baltes, B. B., Early, B. J., & Shepard, A. (2017). Generational differences in work ethic: Fact or fiction? Journal of Business and Psychology, 32(3), 301-315. DOI:10.1007/s10869-016-9466-5.