Addicted To Email? Sue Your Boss!

from the make-it-stop dept

For many years now, we’ve covered the joy with which the press loves to cover researchers and psychologists naming just about everything an addiction. When you look at the details, few of them represent actual addictions — but most represent attempts by psychologists to cash in on treating people who surf the web or play video games too much, rather than helping people with more serious problems. One of the more popular ones, of course is email addiction, which has been suggested many times. However, some business professors have a new take on it. After putting together a study suggesting that “the fast and relentless pace of technology-enhanced work environments creates a source of stimulation that may become addictive…” they then suggest it may represent a legal liability for companies. Yes, they expect that people will start suing companies over their email addiction. This certainly brings a different take on the whole issue of work-life balance. It seems pretty difficult to believe a court would take such a lawsuit seriously. However, now that the idea is out there, expect someone to at least try — like the guy a few years back who sued his cable company for making his family fat and lazy.

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Comments on “Addicted To Email? Sue Your Boss!”

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Anonymous Coward says:


Remember the guy who sued apple for not limiting volume ’cause it “might” make him go deaf?

Well, Lets combine that brilliant idea with the one above.

I want to sue my grocery store (Wal-Mart.. $$$) for not stopping me from eating too mcuh sugar and becomeing glaucemic. I’m not, but its their fault that I could eventually, might someday, maybe become glaucemic. And if that doesn’t work, perhaps I can sue starbucks for my caffeine addiction. Nevermind, I actually have one of those.. but I don’t go to coffeeshops.

Hey, wait, that last part isn’t offtopic… Maybe I should sue starbucks, I do buy their beans in bulk from costco..

Jim Zandi says:

Caffiene addiction

“If people work longer hours for personal enrichment, they assume the risk, however, if an employer manipulates an individual’s propensity toward workaholism or technology addiction for the employer’s benefit, the legal perspective shifts. When professional advancement (or even survival) seems to depend on 24/7 connectivity, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between choice and manipulation.” – Gayle Porter, one of the researchers.

I’m gonna sue my company for making me addicted to coffee. They provide it to me so I will be more attentive; they are manipulating my propensity to caffiene addiction. Who’s going to join me?

Sanguine Dream says:

There's a line here...

and you have to know when your company is trying to cross it. When your company is trying to give you cell phones, PDAs, laptops…etc. in order to contact you more easily (which will ultimately decrease your actual downtime) then they are crossing the lne. Yeah your gadgets make you look “professional” (which is usually the true motivation behind most of these devices) but when you have to go back to the office while trying to have a nice dinner with your spouse you’ll regret it.

Jamie says:

Re: There's a line here...

There is only a crossed line if you let it be crossed. You don’t have to answer your pager/cellphone/PDA 24 hours a day. You can ignore it if you want to.

Sure your employer will try to get as much out of you as he/she can, but it’s your own fault if it gets too far out of hand. Set some boundaries in your life and stick to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: There's a line here...

Thats the real heart of it. The technology allows more intelligent allocation of time. Some individuals are not able to keep that power under control and end up working too much. Thats their own problem. Your boss is going to get as much work as he can out of you. If for whatever reason you don’t push back, then the natural balance is off-kilter. Draw your lines.

Beware though–if enough people feel that working 24 hours will get them ahead, then that will become the norm and eventually the expectation. When that day comes–stick to your lines. You may suffer, but don’t forget that theres a reason for the lines you drew. Suffer for it–youre better in the long run.

Anonymous Coward says:

People suck – it’s not the cable company’s fault the dude’s fat and lazy..

Email addiction – give me a break!!! I am mired with email all day, and when I get home – my friends whine at me because I don’t check it.

Try this: take some responsibility for your own actions.

The operative word in these ‘lawsuits’ is *I*. “I am fat because ***I*** ate too many big macs”


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

liar. asshole. it’s everyone else’s fault. i’m so sick of people like you trying to tell me that i can’t blame who i want for the problems i, umm, i mean they, created. it’s ideas like this that will make my life more difficult! i am a fat, lazy american and it’s not my fault…IT’S YOURS.

Oh, and it’s your fault my kids are stupid and don’t listen to me and beat their grandmother too. prick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: RE: by bob

> If you’re incorporated, the company would be liable, and you probably COULD sue yourself…

This has already happened.

In a bizarre twist, by acquiring Napster, Bertelsmann finds itself fighting on both sides of two separate legal cases. In December 1999, the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) representing 18 music companies including Bertelsmann’s BMG label, sued Napster for copyright infringement to the tune of $20 billion in damages. Then in October 2001, Napster sued Bertelsmann along with four other major music companies for collusion in attempting to eliminate competition in online music distribution.

“Admittedly, it appears that we are suing ourselves,” Klein declared. “But we feel confident that we will prevail, one way or the other.” Industry analysts gave the company a fifty-fifty chance of legal victory.


Also, don’t think that you can sue yourself and have an insurance company pay it. They’ve thought of that one.

Insurance companies argue, sometimes successfully, that a claim stemming from a trustee suing on behalf of the company falls under a common policy exclusion that says there’s no coverage when the company sues itself.

dg says:

why a writer or accountant

I’m the first to agree that many shrinks are not doing their own “introspection” work, and are therefore not qualified to treat their patients. However, I also know that we pick directions in life to address semi-conscious issues. The sterotype that cops are either power or heart centered is old and frequently cited. Yet it occurs to few that an accountant desires predictability; a park ranger solitude; a writer wants external expression. Why is it so hard to conceive that I might select hobbies (ie too much email) to avoid certain emotions as well?? After all, addiction is about not facing the emotions (sensations in the body) in the here and now

Anonymous Coward says:

Um, you people do realize that there has been no lawsuit filed for email addiction?

You also should realize that:

No obesity lawsuit against a fast food manufacturer has ever gone to trial, and in accordance with the tort reform measures prohibiting them (because of all those zero lawsuits that almost bankrupted America), none will ever be heard, regardless of their merit?

The guy who filed the ‘fat and lazy’ lawsuit against the cable company dropped the suit before the judge could throw it out?

…and the REASON these are news stories in the US is because they are very unusual? Anyone can file a lawsuit in a US court. Yes, many people file silly, crazy lawsuits, but that is a pretty predictable side effect of having a robust and accessible tort system. The silly cases you read about are usually either dropped or thrown out of court, and never even go to trial.

I’d be much more convinced about this whole ‘lawsuit epidemic’ if there were more examples of suits like this that had actually been filed and won.

Please think for a minute before you swallow some line about a ‘lawsuit epidemic’ without evidence.

Tech Guy says:

There is Tech addiction

A lot of people are addicted to their technology in various ways. I can’t stand how people go out of their way to answer phones in their own home.

I no longer own a personal Mobile/Cell phone. I have the one that my work provides, and I answer it only during work hours (or close proximity to).

I have gotten in trouble before because some customer contacted our office 5 seconds after close of business. The two of us in the office said ‘f*** it’ and left. They claimed it was before closing, we said it wasn’t.

I let the phone ring in my own house and let the machine get it if I’m in no mood to talk to anyone, I leave emails for work until work hours.

Set your limits and try stick rigidly to them. That way you can’t be pushed around/seduced into providing free overtime for your work.

julieth williams (user link) says:

Julieth Williams

Dearest trusted one,

Please send your response to my private and more confidential e-mail, which I have created for this purpose only.

Based on the trust and God’s divine guidance that I have this great oppoutunity linking up to you, though we have not meet before but I believe that one have to risk in confiding his secret to succeed sometimes in life.

My name is Julieth Williams, 23 years old undergraduate.I am only daughter of chief/Mrs Paul williams a major cocoa exporter cum politician.I am native of Lorma in western part of liberia,Africa.

I was born out of tragic mother died from cancer when i was only 4 years old,my father nurtured me with great care and love before he met his own untimely death on the way coming back from business trip from overseas,on his arrival to the airport his driver went to drove him back home on the way they have a fatal car accident which killied his driver at spot while my father spent 3 painful days at hospital before uncle seized all my father’s companies and properties because of our traditionl believe that i’m a woman.I was left with nothing and dropped out of shool because of finacial difficulties and my uncle’s wicked attitude.

my father told me a deep secret on his sick bed which I want to share with you in a full confidentiality.He deposited a huge sum of 14 million Dollers (14,OOO,OOO USD)in one of reputable security company in Ivory Coast because of polictical instability in our country Liberia without the knowledge of my uncle.presently i’m in ivory coast since the civil war broke out in liberia as a refugee in one of missionary home while my uncle flew to the london with his children.although i have contacted the security company they comfirmed the logdement.

Dearest all I want you to do for me is to step forward as my foreign partner to the security company so that the money will be retrieve,I have all the neccesary information to back you up.i will sincerely give you 12% out of the money,5% for any expenses incurred during the transaction and the rest will be used for any investement preferred by you in your country.

I am pleading to you with the name of Almighty God to help me out of this problem.coincidentally Ivory coast is now having it’s own political unrest too,

I am kindly waiting for your soonest response.

All my love,
Julieth Williams.

Please send your response to my private and more confidential e-mail, which I have created for this purpose only.

Lardo Largeass says:

Stoop to the Left

Techies know that too much email, like too much Bigga Mac, gonna make that junk up in that trunk. My Boss eat too much and no longer manage by walk-around. We get 30-40 email from her each day. She sit 40 feet away!!! She just sit back on it and email all us to bark her orders. The whole tech team is now like a pooch on an email-leash. When she bark her email, we are get hopping and do what she say. Even three day ago I have to stop working on network installation project and run down to Pepe Pizza-ria to get her the large anchovie-supreme-triple-cheese and pepporoni pie and two-litre Cherry Coke so she can not leave office but continue to oppress other team members with her tytannical email assaults.

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