Are you suffering from emotional stress in the workplace? Do you feel like earning your living every day takes a toll on your mental health? As one of the best law firms in Los Angeles, Khanuja Law Firm is committed to providing the legal representation and support you need to overcome these types of situations. It can be difficult to identify Emotional Distress and when it becomes necessary for you to take action or even sue your employer.
What is Emotional Distress in the Workplace?
Emotional distress is the mental suffering that employees undergo as a consequence of violations such as harassment and biases at the workplace or a troublesome environment at the office. For instance, lawsuits for wrongful termination and sexual harassment are usually considered under emotional distress. According to psychologists, losing a job or getting insulted by your employer without a valid reason, often leads to emotional distress, for which you may be eligible to sue your employer.
A Data-driven Insight:
As per a survey conducted by the American Institute of Stress, around 80 percent of workers suffer from stressful situations at work. Additionally, 25% of workers agree that work is one of the main causes of stress in their lives. The compounding of everyday stressors has the potential to build and eventually be classified as Emotional Distress.
Signs and symptoms when usual stress turns into Emotional Distress:
Experiencing usual stress at the workplace doesn’t qualify as Emotional Distress; rather, normal stress is considered healthy as it lets the employee perform at the best ounce of his/her capacity. But how can you tell when stress takes a backseat and Emotional Distress takes the wheel?
Here are some symptoms for you to understand:
- Persistent stress
- Stress that leads to no productive outcome
- Stress that feels toxic
- Disrupted logical reasoning
- Constant irrational thoughts of guilt/shame
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of isolation from family and friends due to work pressure
- Inability to focus on mundane things
Can I Sue My Employer for Emotional Distress?
Yes, you can definitely sue your employer under the following conditions-
If your employer acted in a reckless or intentional way that was outrageous or extreme, causing you mental stress, you might be able to sue your employer. This is considered to be a tort under the law; commonly known as the “tort of outrage”. The most crucial factor of this lawsuit, however, is proving that the actions of their employer were intentional. Furthermore, it must be proven that the employee’s stress is the direct consequence of the employer’s action.
If your emotional distress is caused by the negligent actions of your employer, you can sue them under the clause of Negligent Infliction. Your lawyer must prove to the court that your stress has been caused by the intentional or reckless negligence of your employer.
Examples of this type of Negligence Induced Emotional Distress (NIED) could be if an employer witnessed and did not take action to prevent harassment in the workplace, or if an employee was almost crushed or injured by poorly maintained equipment. An employee could also have shock due to construction accidents or equipment malfunctions. In these cases, you and your lawyer will need to prove that there was a wilful or knowing violation of statutory duty by the employer, due to which your mental health suffered.
Proving Emotional Distress in Court:
While it may seem daunting to prove your emotional distress was caused by your employer, having a lawyer you trust on your side can make all the difference in the outcome.
Meeting requirements to prove Emotional Distress and recover damages. Have a look:
1] Symptoms: Make sure you maintain a record of every single time when you experienced emotional distress at the workplace along with the date and time. This may sound tiring but it will add a magnitude of evidence to your lawsuit that would be difficult to dispute. Also, it is crucial to prove that your mental injury has been caused by a situation at your workplace instead of any alien elements. You may go ahead to consult a psychiatrist to understand these symptoms or can even research on the internet. If you do consult a psychiatrist, keep a record of the consultation, as it will likely be helpful later on.
2] Intensity: As you seek to recover damages based on your mental injury from your employer, it is crucial that you also provide the records of intensity at which such damage has been caused. Before ascertaining the amount, the court will always seek to understand the severity of such damage. As per California Law, only Emotional Distress cases that are extremely severe in nature qualify for legal action. If you are unable to perform your mundane activities due to such stress, then keep a record and present it to your attorney for better substantiation of the appeal.
3] Cause: Proving the cause is the most essential element that can secure you a positive outcome. It is imperative to prove that your disrupted mental health is directly linked to your employer’s actions at the workplace. The more easily you prove it, the more impactful your case will be. Thereafter, your claim to seek compensation from your employer will be strengthened. If at any point during the deliberations, the court of law feels that there have been alien elements affecting your mental health other than your employer, the case will lose its gravity.
4] Conduct of the Employer: Proving the direct link of the triggering event to your mental health isn’t enough. Rather, you as an employee and your representation also need to prove that such action or event took place as a consequence of the wrongdoing—wilful negligence of statutory duty—by the defendant/employer. As per California Law, it is essential to prove that the action was a consequence of negligent or intentional wrongdoing by the employer. This will render a significant impact on your case. The collected documents should also include direct communication between you and the defendant/your employer.
1. Economic and Non-economic Damages:
Commonly known as ‘Compensatory Damages’, the Economic Damages are meant to compensate the amount that you, the employee, would have earned had you not faced such mental stress and an unhealthy work environment in addition to what you spent seeking professional care. It usually accounts for the loss of wages, medical aid, or employee benefits that you had to let go of due to discriminatory conduct at the workplace. On the other hand, Non-economic damages account for the non-monetary losses. These include pain, trauma, a constant sense of inferiority, loss of social relations, etc. that has been caused due to malicious conduct by the employer at the workplace. Such damages include monetary compensation for non-monetary losses.
2. Equitable Accommodation:
This isn’t necessarily about monetary compensation; rather, it is an equitable direction from the court to the defendant/employer, to perform certain acts or refrain from certain acts for the welfare of the employee. This is a relief measure meant to create a healthy workplace and to improve the work environment for the employees as a corrective measure.
If you are suffering through any of the above-mentioned situations at your workplace; you may be able to sue for the violation of your rights. Khanuja Law Firm can help you recover damages. Contact us to request a free consultation: