Management Articles


An Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Program for Your Employees Can Lower Your Chances of Being Sued & Lower the Settlement if You Are Sued

By: Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  Visit her on the web at and for FREE ezine.

Bullying, mobbing and hostile workplace are not currently illegal in the US. However according to The Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute (WBTI), the first legislation on bullying went  to the California legislature (AB 1582) in February of this year.

The WBTI urges individuals to sign their on-site petition form ( to lobby in other states.

“Until there is a law,” they say, “employers willnot care about bullying.”

What Can You Do?

“Preventing on-the-job violence is difficult,” says Peter Freiberg, writing on bullying in the APA Monitor (American Psychological Association), “because it often involves changing the very culture of the workplaces.”

There are no statistics on the extent of workplace bullying (mobbing, harassment, etc.) in the US,  but consultants affirm it’s “endemic” in some organizations, self-perpetuating and viral.

If your company has a culture that’s leaving you open to risk, here’s what an EQ program can do for you.

An EQ program trains your employees to avoid situations that can cost your business money. It trains employees and staff to avoid behaviors that create or perpetuate situations that can cost you thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees and settlements.

EQ training for managers and HR personnel increases the likelihood of choosing the best candidate in the first place, and then managing them properly, so you save the money and risk involved in dismissal, rehiring and retraining.

This applies at all levels. Studies have shown that cardiologists with high EQ (particularly in one competency) get sued less than cardiologists with low EQ.

An EQ program addresses most potentially litigious issues -- sexual harassment, fraud, discrimination, multicultural and diversity issues, mobbing, bullying, constructive discontent, communication and hostility.

Studies of jurors in employment litigation show the jury will treat the company more kindly if you have a program in place. They expect you to act on complaints, meaning your managers must be trained to evaluate complaints and handle them properly.

Jurors expect you to put a program in place if there has been a complaint, and a "complaint" can mean an offhand remark at the company picnic. They don’t like if you put a program in place  only after a lawsuit was filed, and they have  a chance to express their “dislike” in the  punishment phase of the trial.

Jurors think a superior who inappropriately touches an employee should be fired immediately. They’re especially incensed if the company looks  the other way for monetary reasons, i.e.,  letting the rainmaker get away with something  the receptionist couldn’t. They hold senior  staff to a higher standard of conduct, and don’t like it when the victim “goes on  trial” – either at your office or during proceedings, i.e., "Then why did you dress that way?"

Polled jurors not only “believe” the victim, they are sure that harassment and discrimination are frequent. Note this current appeal on the website of the Workplace and Bullying trauma Institute ( ): “If you are a bullied target living in or near NEW YORK, NY we have an immediate need to have you go On Record for a newspaper story.”

42% of people surveyed reported having witnessed others being targeted for bullying. You may consider this “part of working,” but jurors do not.

An EQ program is fair and equal treatment for all employees. It's non-invasive, non-discriminatory, singles out no one, is positive, proactive, everyone can learn it, and it gets results.

An EQ culture can change "the way things are  done around here," and if "the way things are done around here" is exposing you to liability, you need to act.

An EQ program raises the average EQ in your office which has proven to increase the bottom line. According to research by Reuven Bar-on, Ph.D., raising the overall average emotional intelligence in your office affects the bottom line positively, while increasing one person's EQ does not. In other words, train everyone for best results.

Managers with high EQ can keep you out of trouble. They are often the first point of  contact and how they handle a complaint makes  a difference. Managers and supervisors with low EQ are easily "hijacked" by emotion and  react to employees and situations without thinking it through and using good judgment.

Lack of 'Soft’ Skills Brings ‘Hard’ Consequences During the Punishment Phase of the Trial.

And what’s the trend? There is corporate manslaughter on the continent, and bullying is already illegal in the UK.

Cases are being won in Europe by employees  (see my article, “What’s Going on with  Mobbing, Bullying, and Work Harassment  Internationally” ( and European Union (EU) members  are lobbying for an EU-wide statute against mobbing.

A study by Spain's University of Alcal de Henares reports that 15% of workers in the EU “suffer psychological harassment or mobbing on the job.”

Belgium has a law on harassment in the pipeline, and Germany is considering legislating to tackle the problems there. The German Ministry of Labour reports the problem costs the state £100 million a year in medical costs, plus lost working days.

The Mobbing Report, a survey of 4,400 workers, estimated that 800,000 people were suffering "intolerable" abuse every day and that 1.5 million workers suffered sickness caused by bullying.

Lobbying is moving forward in the US. Get a training program in place now and reduce your risk.

For more about mobbing, go here: For more on bullying, go here:

© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2003

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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