We all experience bad days at work, but most of us pat ourselves in the back with the encouraging thoughts that better days are just around the corner. However, a repeated occurrence of these “bad work days” can lead to a serious problem for the employee. Emotional distress at work caused by a co-worker or bad boss can be unlawful. No one deserves to be subjected to a harsh work environment that leads to mental suffering. How do you know when it’s time to sue your employer for emotional distress?
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL DISTRESS?
Emotional distress is the result of a frequent subjection to an extreme mental or physical harm. A person suffering from Emotional distress may experience mental suffering in form of fear, panic, anxiety, feeling of guilt, and in fact, thoughts of “ending it”- suicide.
It is an extreme state of psychological suffering that is caused by another person’s or group of person’s negligent or intentional acts. In some cases, a person’s actions can result in a physical injury being inflicted on another, which can then lead to the injured party suffering emotional distress.
Emotional distress manifests itself in the form of psychological injuries which include: severe depression, suicidal thoughts, severe anxiety or panic, self-guilt, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias. Certain circumstances can allow a person to sue for emotional distress. For instance, if you are a witness to the death of a loved one or to the mishandling of the deceased’s body you can file a suit.
Moreover, if you are present at a tragic event or you happen to be in the danger zone which could lead to you getting injured or dying, you are eligible to sue for emotional distress. Even being the victim of sexual assault or suffering work-related injuries that result from your employer’s negligence can allow you to sue for emotional distress.
However, a plaintiff’s personality can sometimes determine whether or not the plaintiff is eligible to make a claim. Those who are unusually delicate or sensitive may not be allowed to file their claims. Persons considered fragile such as children, pregnant women and the elderly are usually more likely to recover damages from these cases.
EMOTIONAL DISTRESS – WHAT ARE THE TYPES?
Your employer or perhaps co-worker can cause your emotional distress intentionally or from the act of negligence. Under the state and federal laws, we have two kinds of emotional distress:
1) Intentional (IIED)
If your employer or co-worker intentionally subjects you to an outrageous behavior, you can file a claim for IIED. Sometimes, proving IIED claims can be difficult. Why? Because what one person sees as “outrageous or extreme” may not be strong enough to convince the court. A valid example of IIED is when a boss or a co-worker threatens to injure or even kill you. If the threat makes you panic at work on a regular basis, or makes you suffer from physical health issues or serious mental adversaries, you’ll be able to prove your claim.
2) Negligent (NIED)
If your employer does not use reasonable care to avoid causing you emotional distress, then you can also file a claim for NIED. Eye-witnesses who saw the negligent incidence can as well bring a claim even if they do not fall victim to incidence. For example, if you almost suffered a serious injury from operating equipment that obviously lacks a proper maintenance from your employee; you may be able to prove your claims.
CAN I SUE MY BOSS/CO-WORKER FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS?
Under the federal and your state employment law, employees are outrightly protected from unsafe and negligence working condition. There are numerous steps employees can take to sue for emotional distress-only the law could get complicated. While an acclaimed emotional distressed victim may file a claim due to workplace injury, another may file a workplace harassment complaint if they were threatened through due to (race, age, class, disability, gender, e.t.c.)
In order to sue for emotional distress, it is important to know the kinds of emotional distress claims you can file. There is emotional distress caused by negligence and emotional distress caused intentionally. In addition, it is necessary to be clear on what you need to prove for each of these claims.
For the negligence claim, you are required to prove that the defendant’s actions or lack of them was due to negligence and that was what resulted in your emotional distress. And in the event that you suffered a physical injury, you will also be required to prove that the injury was the cause of the emotional distress.
For the claim arising from intentional acts, you should be ready to prove that the defendant’s actions were intentional or careless and that those actions are what resulted in your emotional distress. It is also important for the claim to define what exactly is extreme, outrageous or careless conduct.
This behavior must exceed normal rudeness, insult or malice and be devoid of all decency. This is behavior that would be considered unacceptable and uncivilized. However, in some cases, normal insults or rudeness can be considered by the jury as extreme or outrageous if the plaintiff and defendant share a special relationship or if the defendant acts this way knowing that the plaintiff is vulnerable to emotional distress because of a mental or physical illness or abnormality.
To file an emotional distress lawsuit, there are some requirements. First and foremost it is important for you to know and consider statutes of limitations if any This is because there may be a specified period of time from the date of the incident to the date you want to file a claim within which you can be allowed to make your claim, and exceeding that time limit may disqualify you from going ahead with the lawsuit. Then you need to put together your evidence.
The evidence can include medical records, doctor’s prescriptions and documented testimonials of persons who can bear witness to the changes in your emotional situation. Important to note as well is that your evidence should include precise illustrations of the way the emotional distress you have suffered is altering or interfering with your way of life.
YOU’D NEED AN EXPERT TO HANDLE YOUR CLAIM
Some emotional distress claims are fact-intensive and may prove difficult to handle on your own- especially if you’re not backed up by evidence of visible harm. Here, you’ll need to speak with an expert employment lawyer who can gather valid evidence and file your claims properly. Emotional distress is serious especially when it affects your work and life.
If you think your employer is the reason for your emotional distress, speak with an expert employment lawyer today and let justice be done.