BlackBerry backlash reaches the courts

2006

Only six week ago, Gayle Porter, an associate professor of management at the Rutgers University School of Business at Camden, warned that employers who encourage their employees to remain umbilically connected to the office via their Blackberries and other electronic gadgets could end up being held liable for encouraging electronic addiction among their staff.

Now, according to UK newspaper, The Independent on Sunday, the BlackBerry backlash has already begun in the US, where firms are settling out of court to avoid negative publicity.

In one recent case, an employer had to pay substantial damages to a woman who was so distracted by her BlackBerry while driving that she crashed and killed a motorcyclist. In another, a woman took action after putting cleaning fluid on her baby's nappy instead of baby oil because she was distracted by her BlackBerry.

And last week, health officials warned of a painful new syndrome - BlackBerry Thumb - caused by excessive use of the portable devices. The American Physical Therapy Association says that middle-aged businessmen are particularly at risk of this disorder, which can aggravate arthritis.

The Independent on Sunday | CrackBerry addicts: Why the workers who can't switch off are suing their employers