Tales and Tips on Workplace Revenge

Tempted to hog-tie your boss? There are better ways to settle the score.

ByABC News
May 28, 2008, 2:16 PM

May 29, 2008— -- Admit it. There's someone at work you'd like to hog-tie, like Dolly Parton and company did to their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss in the movie "Nine to Five."

You wouldn't be alone in your workplace revenge fantasy. Any HR professional worth his or her salt can regale you with tales of pink-slipped employees stealing sales leads, crashing computer networks and siccing the Department of Health on a company while headed out the door.

For some disgruntled workers, though, that's just kid stuff.

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Earlier this month, a Boeing assembly-line worker outside Philadelphia cut 70 electrical wires on a military helicopter because he was upset about a job transfer. In case you were wondering, that's some pretty pricey vandalism.

Not to be outdone, a New York taxi driver who had been fired slit the throat of a white bunny he'd bought in a pet store and left it at the entrance of his former employer's place of business. Like Mr. Wire Cutters, he was arrested.

But how common are scorned employees who take workplace revenge to the extreme, slashing tires, giving the boss a shiner, and in the most horrific cases, showing up at their former place of employment with a shotgun?

Not very.

"Most workplace violence has nothing to do with revenge," says Tom Tripp, Washington State University management professor and co-author with Georgetown University management professor Robert Bies of "Getting Even: The Truth About Workplace Revenge," due out in February 2009.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that only 7 percent of workplace homicides are committed by employees or ex-employees.

Far more common are the everyday, on-the-job acts of revenge -- what Tripp calls "the little nasty stuff." You know, insulting a co-worker, badmouthing a boss, giving a colleague the silent treatment, quitting without notice and -- my personal favorite -- criticizing someone via e-mail and cc'ing the person's manager.

"In most people's careers, these things have happened repeatedly," Tripp says. "It isn't as bad as workplace violence, but it can be bad for workplace productivity."