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Five Examples of Counterproductive Work Behavior

Five High-Profile White-Collar Workers Who Engaged in Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB)

If you’re a manager or business owner, eliminating counterproductive work behavior (CWB) should be at the top of your priority list. Allowing employees to bring CWB into the office can create a toxic and even hostile work environment — and that’s not to mention the financial and legal consequences that can accompany such behaviors. This is why thoroughly vetting prospective employees and maintaining strict workplace policies is critical to a company’s ongoing success.

Of course, the larger an organization becomes and the less hands-on upper management is, the more likely it is that CWB will slip through the cracks. It’s happened to big-name corporations and small companies alike, with some of the larger violations even becoming mainstream news stories. Such events demonstrate the effects of allowing such behaviors to run amok, as well as the severity of the fallout.

Many real instances of CWB also take place across the board when it comes to one’s position at a company. Business owners shouldn’t be fooled into thinking only one type of worker is capable of breaking the law or shirking company policy. CWB can come from higher-level executives, middle management, or employees manning the till or working the assembly line. One’s position and skill set does not correlate with their integrity and ethics, something those on the lookout for problematic behavior would do well to remember.

Let these five high-profile cases of CWB serve as a warning to curb negative and harmful behaviors at your own company before it’s too late.  For some further reading on recent high profile CWB, there are also these examples from Home Depot and Kroger.

McDonalds’ Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

McDonalds made headlines in 2019 and 2020 due to some of its lower-level managers engaging in CWB. The fast-food chain was hit with a $500 million sexual harassment lawsuit last April after women at nearly 100 Florida-based McDonalds restaurants complained of harassment that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act.

Fairley v. McDonald’s Corp. is a prime example of how CWB can result in legal consequences. It also shows just how much money a company stands to lose if it fails to pick up on such behaviors and stomp them out. Due to McDonalds’ size and reputation, it also faced the negative publicity brought on by the lawsuit.

McDonalds has since come out publicly about its efforts to curb sexual harassment in its restaurants. Taking similar steps prior to violations can help other companies protect themselves from liabilities and protect their employees from uncomfortable situations.

A $95 Million Sexual Harassment Suit in Illinois

A less publicized but slightly more shocking example of CWB occurred in Illinois back in 2011, when an employee at one of Aaron’s Inc.’s furniture stores alleged that her boss sexually assaulted her. After the employee filed a lawsuit, a jury at the Southern District of Illinois determined that the employee in question should receive a combined total of $95 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages. The judge for the case lowered the claim to around $43 million because of statutory limits.

Sadly, while the situation at Aaron’s Inc. is on the extreme side, it’s not entirely uncommon. Studies suggest that around 21 percent of Americans deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, even in 2020. It’s the kind of CWB that can leave a stain on a company’s legacy and lead to serious legal and financial fallout.

The Bribes of an Apple Security Chief

Even technology giant Apple isn’t immune to the consequences of CWB. In November 2020, a security chief at the company was indicted for offering bribes to the Sheriff’s Office in Santa Clara, Calif. Thomas Moyer allegedly offered to donate 200 iPads to the Sheriff’s Office in exchange for concealed carry permits for Apple employees.

Such an incident underscores the need to keep an eye on one’s inventory, but also to ensure that employees are trustworthy in the first place. Anyone who has access to a company’s products or revenue should undergo some sort of character assessment before being brought onboard.

Faking a COVID-19 Diagnosis

The COVID-19 health crisis has shaken up entire industries, giving businesses new protocols to implement and new liabilities to worry about. And evidently, one Georgia-based Fortune 500 employee took advantage of the situation, costing his employer more than $100,000 with his stunt. Antonio Davis lied to his company about testing positive for the virus, causing the business to close for cleaning purposes. Davis’ actions also resulted in his coworkers needing to quarantine. Not only did this create a panic among the employees who thought they’d been exposed, but it forced the company to pay their salaries while they were out of work.

Davis has since confessed to lying about his diagnosis, and he has been charged for committing fraud. An investigation is currently underway.

This example of CWB is particularly interesting because it underscores how employees — sometimes ones who haven’t engaged in such behaviors before — may take advantage of new situations, costing their employers in the long run. That’s why companies need to ensure that they’re staying on top of CWB, even beyond the hiring process.

Nurse Steals From COVID-19 Patient

Stealing is one of the more serious CWB to watch out for, but it’s not always the company that’s being stolen from. Last May, a nurse at Staten Island University Hospital was charged with grand larceny, petty larceny, and criminal possession of stolen property after taking one of her COVID-19 patient’s credit cards. Danielle Conti reportedly made two purchases using the card before the patient’s daughter noticed the charges.

Although Conti is facing the criminal charges in this situation, and not the hospital itself, it’s important to note that this type of CWB does leave a mark on a business. Such incidents can destroy trust in an institution, leaving an organization or company worse off than before.

Verensics Can Help You Prevent CWB at Your Company

Integrity assessments during the hiring process can help employers identify and eliminate CWB before it infiltrates their company. At Verensics, we’ve implemented the knowledge and experience of longtime corporate investigators and organizational psychologists to create an online interview platform that doesn’t just measure a job candidate’s character. It also guides applicants to reveal things about their values and beliefs that they normally wouldn’t. Such a tool is ideal for employers hoping to avoid situations like the five above.

Sure, assessing every prospective employee before onboarding them may require more time and effort. However, it certainly beats worrying about or confronting legal and financial consequences that could impact your business for years to come.

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