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Boss A Jerk? Think About Suing Him

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The Skinny is Keach Hagey's take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.



Is your boss a nightmare? Not just annoying, but so completely lacking in people skills as to possibly be a sociopath?

There may now be more you can do than simply renting "Office Space" for the 11th time. The Los Angeles Times reports that lawmakers across the country are considering legislation that would give workers grounds to sue their superiors "for being, basically, jerks."

The specific standards for behavior that would justify such lawsuits are still being worked out. At least four state legislatures, including those in New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Washington, are considering such a measure.

Impetus for the legislation comes at a time of rising awareness of bad boss behavior, the L.A. Times reports. The AFL-CIO is set to announce the winner of its My Bad Boss contest based on who had the most ghoulish tale of boss misbehavior.

Top contenders include a boss who called the office every morning to give instructions as he brushed his teeth and conducted other business in the bathroom. Another boss told his workers to use pencils when he was told the office was so cold that the ink in their pens stopped flowing.

To those who would argue that pushing around employees has been a part of bosshood since the advent of work, the Times offers a few theories to explain the recent surge of worker whining.

Some experts contend the ranks of bullying bosses are growing as short-staffed companies tap managers with lousy people skills. Other experts point out that "baby boomers on the cusp of retirement and restless younger employees are more likely to complain or quit than suffer in silence."

The disgruntlement is fairly widespread. This year the Employment Law Alliance, a San Francisco clearinghouse for employment and labor lawyers, conducted a nationwide survey and found that 44 percent of employees said they worked for an abusive supervisor.

All good stuff to remember the next time your boss says, after asking you to work Saturday, "Ahh, I'm also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too."

Maliki Malaise

U.S. lawmakers and military commanders alike have had it up to here with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to the top of the Wall Street Journal's newsbox and the front page of the Washington Post.

The Post delivers fightin' words from the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who just got back from a three-day trip to Iraq and Jordan apparently unimpressed with what he saw.

"I hope the parliament will vote the Maliki government out of office and will have the wisdom to replace it with a less sectarian and more unifying prime minister and government," he declared in a clear strike across the bow of the Maliki-backing President Bush. The Post called his statement "the most forceful call for leadership change in Iraq from a U.S. official."

Meanwhile, the Journal focuses on the deeply divided opinion of Maliki among military commanders, led by top U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus (pro) and Army Chief of Staff George Casey (anti). Petraeus says Maliki has been making baby steps and needs more time, but Casey, who held the top slot in 2005 and 2006, said "the U.S. may have erred in believing that Mr. Maliki, with a lifetime of Shiite activism, would be willing or able to make political compromises with the country's Sunnis."

"It would be a huge shame if, after all the military has accomplished with the surge, we don't get a political accommodation," Casey said. "But I'm not optimistic."

Airport Anger Is The New Road Rage

Casey and Levin aren't the only Iraq watchers in a dour mood. One congressman on his way to check out the situation over there had a little episode at Dulles International Airport over the weekend that resulted in his being charged with misdemeanor assault and battery for allegedly pushing an airline employee during a dispute over baggage, the Washington Post reports.

After "experiencing a delay claiming his bag," Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., allegedly attempted to enter an employees-only area, pushed aside an employee's arm and wouldn't leave when asked, according to the airport's statement. Filner's office called the charges "ridiculous."

That's as far as the Post is willing to go on the story, but a source familiar with the incident reportedly told Fox News that when airport agents told Filner to leave the off-limits area, her responded: "I'm not going until I get my bag. You're treating us like animals."

Considering the degeneration of the flying experience during the past few months, it's quite possible that the ornery lawmaker's behavior was the only logical response to the situation.


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  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.