What You Should Know About Suing Your Employer for Emotional Distress

Boss shouting an employeeDo you feel stressed and depressed because of a co-worker’s inappropriate behavior? You can file a complaint against that colleague to stop the actions that make you feel anxious. And if your employer doesn’t take your complaint seriously, you may file a personal injury claim to recover damages.

This is a complex legal matter, however, as your injury or damages are not physical. Emotional distress is a form of anxiety caused by the negligent or intentional acts of another individual. Before filing a claim, be sure to know the legally recognized forms of emotional distress:

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)

In some states, you can sue for NIED if your emotional distress is due to your employer’s negligent actions or conduct. You must prove, however, that your boss acted in willful violation of statutory duty — and that you suffered emotional distress because of those actions or lack of action to stop, thereof.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

This type of emotional distress is also known as “tort of outrage” because it is based on extreme or outrageous behavior that’s intentional and reckless in nature. If you want to sue for IIED, you have to prove the following:

  • Your employer acted recklessly or intentionally;
  • Your employer’s conduct was intense or outrageous;
  • Your employer’s actions directly caused your emotional distress; and
  • Your emotional stress was severe.

Now, what if the outrageous behavior was done by a co-worker and not the employer? The court may hold your employer liable for your co-worker’s conduct if:

  1. The employer had knowledge of the specific conduct;
  2. The employer knew the conduct or behavior was harmful; and
  3. The employer failed to take the necessary steps to address the issue.

If you don’t want to take such matters to court, you might want to consider employment mediation. Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution, Inc. shares that even the most complex workplace disputes can be resolved without litigation.

On the other hand, if you proceed to file a personal injury claim based IIED or NIED, it is best you seek advice from a lawyer who handles such cases.