Los Angeles Office Location
Hennig Ruiz Law Firm
Not sure if you have a legal case? Call us to talk to a lawyer:
Free Consultations
424-394-0464
One Of The Most Successful Workers' Rights Trial Law Firms In California

Can I Sue My Employer for Emotional Distress in California?

can-i-sue-my-employer-for-emotional-distress-california.png

We all have bad days at work, but many of us can simply power through knowing that better days are just around the corner. However, there are times when a series of "bad work days" can turn into a serious problem for an employee. Work-related emotional distress brought on by a bad boss or coworker can also be unlawful. No one should be subjected to a hostile work environment that causes mental suffering, but how do you know if you can sue your employer for emotional distress?

This article will help you understand emotional distress, and how your employee rights may be protected under California and federal employment laws.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is the result of being subjected to extreme physical or mental harm. A person who is dealing with emotional distress may experience mental suffering in the form of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, feelings of guilt, and even suicidal thoughts.

Types of Emotional Distress

Your employer can cause emotional distress intentionally or by being negligent. There are two types of emotional distress that are recognized by state and federal laws:

1) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

If your boss or a coworker intentionally or recklessly subjects you to extreme or outrageous behaviors, you may be able to file a claim for IIED. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove IIED claims because what one person feels is "extreme" or "outrageous" may not convince the court.

One example of IIED is when a coworker or boss threatens to kill or injure you. If the threat causes you to have panic attacks at work on a regular basis, or you suffer from other severe mental or physical health issues because of it, you may be able to prove your claim. A successful IIED claim must be able to prove the following:

  • Your employer/boss/coworker engaged in intentional or reckless behaviors.
  • Your employer/boss/coworker's behavior was outrageous and extreme.
  • Your employer/boss/coworker's behavior caused you mental distress.
  • Your mental distress was severe.

2) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)

If your employer failed to use reasonable care to avoid causing your emotional distress, then you may be able to file a claim for NIED. Bystanders who witness negligent incidents can also bring a claim even if they were not harmed themselves.

For example, if you nearly suffered from a severe workplace injury from operating equipment that was not properly maintained by your employer, you could have grounds to sue. Or, if you were near someone else getting harmed in such a way, then you may also be able to file a claim. A successful NIED claim must be able to prove the following:

  • Your employer engaged in negligent conduct, or willfully violated a statutory duty.
  • You (or a coworker) suffered from emotional distress from the incident.
  • Your employer's negligent behavior was a cause of emotional distress.

So, Can I Sue My Employer for Emotional Distress?

Under both federal and California employment laws, employees are protected from negligence and unsafe working conditions. There are many ways that an employee can sue for emotional distress and the law can get complicated. While one person may be able to file a claim with Cal-OSHA due to a workplace injury, another may be able to file a workplace harassment complaint if emotional distress from being threatened was due to their membership of a protected class (e.g. age, race, gender, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, etc.).

File an Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against Your Employer

California emotional distress claims are fact-intensive and can be very difficult to prove on your own - especially if you lack visible harm. This is why it's crucial to speak with a California employment lawyer who can help you gather evidence and file your claim appropriately.

Emotional distress is serious when it disrupts your life and work. If you feel that your employer has caused you to suffer from emotional distress, contact our experienced California employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation today.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Super lawyers
  • California Employment Lawyers Association
  • Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles

What Our Clients Say About Us

  1. I needed great attorneys in a short period of time, it was an emergency situation. Some research led me to the Hennig-Ruiz law firm. We spoke on the phone and they had me come into the office and started on my case immediately. They got me exactly what I wanted and did it in the shortest amount of time possible. They were caring, fair and extremely good at what they do. I definitely would recommend them to anyone. -Scott Rooney

  2. If you are looking for legal representation I would suggest for you to consider Hennig Ruiz Law Firm. Put succinctly, their legal team was intelligent, hard working, responsive, and very knowledgeable throughout our time working together. While I of course cannot divulge details about the assistance that the firm provided for me, I can and will say that their representation was pivotal and changed my life for the better beyond words... -Shane Guglielmo

  3. I went to this firm to have a separation letter reviewed and met a young lawyer named Janet Hong. She was extremely friendly, professional, thorough and quick. She reviewed the documentation promptly and gave me actionable advice. I was able to resolve everything quickly. I would not hesitate to recommend Janet to anyone seeking legal services. -Brendan Hagerty

Schedule a Free Consultation

Ready To Start Protecting Your Rights? Call 424-394-0464

Not Sure Whether You Need Lawyer?

Answer a few questions to see whether you have a case.
Get Started Here

Office Location

Hennig Ruiz Law Firm
1925 Century Park East
Suite 1960
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Toll Free: 800-260-6542
Phone: 424-394-0464
Fax: 310-843-9150
Map & Directions

Free Consultations

Contact Us