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Can I Sue my Employer for Stress and Anxiety?

Author Yuriy Moshes

Can I sue my employer? When an employee may experience emotional distress at work, the employee may ask, “Can I sue for emotional distress?” Unlike bodily injuries, emotional distress injuries are more difficult to measure. Since emotional injuries, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety, are not tangible injuries where you can easily measure the injury or what happened, they can be more difficult to pursue. However, just because they are more difficult does not mean that you cannot pursue a claim against your employer. In fact, an increasing number of states, including New York, recognize mental health and emotional claims against your employer.

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This article shall address the grounds to sue the employer, how to go about suing for emotional damages, discuss whether you can sue your former employer for emotional distress, and discuss the importance of hiring a competent emotional distress attorney.

Suing for Emotional Distress

Can I sue someone for emotional distress? Can I sue a company for emotional distress? Emotional distress, also known as “mental anguish,” is a non-physical and mainly psychological injury that may be asserted in civil lawsuits. It is important to note that in most cases, suing someone for emotional distress or suing for mental distress must then result in physical injury or harm.

Can you Sue Your Employer for Emotional Distress?

Can you sue your employer for emotional distress? Can I sue my employer for emotional distress at work? Yes. However, a worker’s compensation for emotional damages or distress only is very difficult to prove. Under New York workers compensation case law, psychological injuries only qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they were caused by an above-average amount of stress. In other words, employees must show that they faced a greater level of stress than other employees typically face. Therefore, claims for mental stress are clearly difficult to sustain under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law. The courts seem unwilling to allow claims based upon allegations of an increased workload, minor arguments, and disagreements. The workers’ compensation board views such allegations as part of the normal work environment.

However, the courts clearly view certain actions by the employer and co-workers as impermissible. Furthermore, if the stress, anxiety or depression arises out of truly reprehensible actions such as racial discrimination and sexual harassment, the claim will likely be sustained, particularly if the employer did little to rectify the underlying problem.

suing for emotional distress

Accordingly, in New York, civil lawsuit for emotional distress damages are compensable if they flow from the discrimination at issue, such as the fear, anxiety, and other negative psychological consequences of suffering a particular injury, which is commonly the violation of the human rights law, both federal and state.

Can I sue my workplace for emotional distress? What can I sue my employer for? Emotional distress damages are recoverable and such claims are a common component of a discrimination case, such as racial discrimination, gender discrimination, or sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

Oftentimes, once an employee is discriminated against by their employer, emotional distress is often accompanied, in which the employee experiences anxiety, depression, and sometimes PTSD. These mental consequences are often a side effect of the discrimination and can be pursued as part of the employee’s claim for discrimination. An experienced emotional distress attorney will be able to provide you legal advice on whether you can sue for emotional distress and harassment.

How to Sue for Emotional Distress / How to Sue a Person for Emotional Distress

Can I sue my job for emotional distress? Can I sue my boss for emotional distress? Yes, both your employer and your boss, individually, may have claims made against them for your emotional distress lawsuit against your employer.

Can you sue for emotional damage? As New York courts are concerned, there are two kinds of emotional distress, intentional or negligent, which formerly are intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. When it comes to negligent or intentional infliction, in cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress, there does not need to be bodily harm for a plaintiff to recover damages for suffering emotionally or emotional trauma.

In most instances of negligent conduct or negligent infliction of emotional distress, however, there needs to be bodily harm in addition to emotional harm for a plaintiff to recover damages. This is called the impact rule. Accordingly, it is typically easier to recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress than for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Where emotional distress damages focus on the effects of suffering a particular injury, a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress treats emotional suffering itself as the central injury itself from which your right to recover other damages flows.

Technically, because bodily harm is not necessarily present in instances of intentional infliction of emotional distress, it is harder to prove; however, an experienced personal injury attorney, in either circumstance, can assemble the evidence you need to sue for emotional loss and that you suffered emotional distress.

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In order to establish a tort in New York, the plaintiff must prove all of the following conditions:

  • Extreme and outrageous conduct;
  • Intent to cause severe emotional distress if pursuing intentional emotional distress;
  • A causal connection between the conduct and the injury; and
  • Severe emotional distress.

Emotional distress awards in New York are generally grouped into three categories: “garden-variety,”“significant” and “egregious.” In a claim for emotional distress that is “garden variety,” the evidence of mental suffering is usually limited to plaintiff’s testimony. With garden variety claims, there is typically no mental health care treatment.

In cases involving “significant” emotional distress, these claims “are based on more substantial harm or more offensive conduct, are sometimes supported by medical testimony and evidence, evidence of treatment by a healthcare professional and/or medication, and testimony from other, corroborating witnesses.”

Finally,“egregious” emotional distress claims “generally involve either ‘outrageous or shocking’ discriminatory conduct or a significant impact on the physical health of the plaintiff.”
Emotional distress can be associated with feelings of humiliation/shame, insomnia, depression, self-destructive thoughts, anxiety, stress, or another emotional response resulting from a traumatic event, such as harassment or discrimination.

An experienced emotional distress attorney will be able to provide you legal advice on whether you can sue for emotional distress and harassment.

How Much Can I Sue For Emotional Distress?

How much can you sue for emotional distress? The amount you can sue for depends on your pain and suffering. Since most instances where one suffers emotional distress require some form of showing of bodily harm, the easiest way to show the impact the plaintiff suffers is through medical treatment and medical bills. Accordingly, the more medical treatment and bills one has toward their bodily harm, the higher their settlement.

Another factor to show how much you can sue for emotional distress is lost wages

Another factor to show how much you can sue for emotional distress is permanent disability.

Whether the plaintiff suffered negligently or intentionally inflicted, only an experienced emotional distress lawyer should analyze your claim, and not just another personal injury attorney. You’ll need a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the types of emotional distress, have effectively tried emotional distress claims, and who know how to sue for emotional distress.

What is a Common Example of Suing Employers for Emotional Distress?

What are some of the more common emotional distress examples? One of the most common examples of emotional distress damages and being able to sue employer for emotional distress is via the sexual harassment caused by the employer, and the emotional distress that comes about as a result of that. For example, should your boss use his status as your supervisor in order to try to date you, you then have a potential workplace emotional distress lawsuit and may have grounds for suing for mental stress due to the mental distress that you would experience as a result of such coercion.

Another example of emotional distress damages in employment cases may occur should your boss discriminate against you due to your race, gender, or age. Can I sue for emotional damages? In such a circumstance, you would definitely have grounds to do so.

An experienced emotional distress attorney will be able to provide you legal advice on whether you can sue for emotional distress and harassment.

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Can you sue for emotional distress? Can I sue my employer for harassment? Can you sue a company for emotional distress? Yes. A qualified emotional distress lawyer from the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes will have the expertise and legal knowledge to best analyze your mental anguish circumstance and how best to recover for your emotional injuries. We represent injured parties in the New York City area including all its boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York.

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