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If you undergo emotional distress because of another individual’s negligent or outrageous deliberate acts, you can file an employment lawsuit to recover damages. This area of the law is complicated. Before filing a lawsuit, it’s essential to comprehend the two types of emotional distress and have an employment attorney review your best options. 

Establishing an Emotional Distress Lawsuit

Emotional distress is either negligent or intentional. The distinction is founded on the company’s state of mind or the individual liable for conducting the destructive act. Each type of emotional distress needs evidence that particular actions did or did not happen.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

If you undergo emotional distress caused by someone else’s negligent behavior, you may be able to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Typically, a victorious claim will prove:

  1. The defendant partook in negligent conduct or a purposeful breach of a statutory duty
  2. You suffered severe emotional distress
  3. The defendant’s negligent behavior or deliberate breach of statutory measures caused them emotional distress.

A claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress can be brought by the individual harmed by the negligent act and some bystanders who saw the incident but were not physically damaged by it.

At work, you can claim negligent infliction of emotional distress if you were nearly smashed by a piece of defective equipment, for instance. Yet, your lawsuit would likely fail if you only saw a co-worker nearly being smashed, and you were not in the “zone of danger.” If you weren’t immediately in the zone of danger, the negligent infliction of emotional distress must involve a close family member.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress is centered on extreme or outrageous conduct that is intentionally or recklessly perpetrated. Most courts demand evidence of four factual details for an emotional distress lawsuit to succeed:

  1. The employer or agent acted intentionally or recklessly,
  2. The employer or agent’s conduct was extreme and outrageous,
  3. The employer or agent’s acts caused the employee mental distress
  4. The emotional distress was severe

There are no precise policies on what extreme and outrageous conduct are, but it can include sexual harassment or other types of workplace discrimination that are particularly harmful. Nevertheless, it must be more than “mere insults, indignities, threats, or annoyances.” It is in your best interest to hire an attorney to resolve whether the conduct you experienced was extreme and outrageous.

Humiliation, shock, and shame qualify as emotional distress. Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when the events would cause a reasonable individual to be incapable of dealing with the mental distress.

Suing an Employer for the Behavior of its Employees

An employer can be legally liable for its employee’s actions when the behavior that caused the emotional distress is within the scope of the employee’s job or the employer agreed to the behavior.

Although each state has its own laws, evidence of the following facts is usually needed:

  1. The employer had actual knowledge of the specific conduct
  2. The employer knew the conduct was harmful
  3. The employer failed to take adequate steps to remedy the situation.

In workplace claims, emotional distress often goes along with other detrimental behavior, like sexual harassment.

Seek Help from a California Employment Lawyer

Emotional distress is a claim that is hard to prove, but it’s an honest injury that can negatively impact your life and career. If you have experienced emotional distress and want to sue your employer, seek professional legal guidance from Mara Law Firm. An attorney can help you understand the laws in your state concerning emotional distress in the workplace.

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