You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Unintended Legal Issues with Spanking Employees
A Chinese employer made news
last week for an unusual workplace discipline episode after a cellphone video revealed employees receiving public spankings for poor performance. The cellphone video shows a man with a wooden stick spanking eight employees four times each. The employer, a bank, claimed the spankings occurred during a team-building exercise facilitated by a corporate coach.
Corporal punishment is illegal in China, and, not surprisingly, a spanking policy or team-building endeavor of this kind would raise serious legal issues for U.S. employers as well. In addition to potential criminal or civil claims of assault and/or battery, workplace spankings could subject an employer to tort liability for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. Historically, such claims are tough to prove absent extremely egregious behavior, but spanking might be deemed to fit the bill. Employee spanking could also raise workplace safety risks (e.g. OSHA) or a risk of workers compensation claims. In addition, workplace spanking could prompt claims of sexual harassment or other discrimination claims if applied to one group of employees (e.g. female employees) but not another.
Let this latest "stranger than fiction" news be a reminder that employers should avoid any company policy or practice that encourages intentional physical contact and possible employee humiliation!
The information contained in this post is provided to alert you to legal developments and should not be considered legal advice. It is not intended to and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Specific questions about how this information affects your particular situation should be addressed to one of the individuals listed. No representations or warranties are made with respect to this information, including, without limitation, as to its completeness, timeliness, or accuracy, and Lathrop GPM shall not be liable for any decision made in connection with the information. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.