Sue Employer for Workplace Stress

Defeated man with hands on the wallWorkplace stress can threaten an employee’s health and productivity. And in some cases, an employee may have good reason to file a lawsuit against an employer for that stress. Studies reveal that workplace stress can cause hypertension, decreased mental health, and severe cardiovascular disease, which results in death for approximately 120,000 people yearly. Employees should be aware of how workplace stress may be influencing their health.

Sue Employer for Workplace Stress

Seen as harmful physical or emotional response to job conflicts, workplace stress occurs when an employee feels little control over high demands placed on them. Stress can start from one intense moment or a few events.

Common Causes of Workplace Stress

  • Fear of being laid off in a bad economy
  • Job redundancy
  • Feeling physically and emotionally unsafe at work
  • Employer overtime demands
  • Rising work expectations
  • Workplace bullying

These common causes of workplace stress plus others can exhaust employees, resulting in illness, anxiety, and more. In extreme circumstances, death can be a result of long-term stress.

2 Steps to Handle Workplace Stress

Realizing that you’re dealing with workplace stress in your job means taking certain steps to improve the situation. Based on your company, you will need to decide how to best move forward.

Speak with your Employer or Human Resources

In a large company, you may have a human resources department that you can go to, but in a smaller company, you may need to approach your boss.

Know What You Want

Informing your employer or HR department about your workplace stress is a good start, but you should also have an end goal. When you present your problem, suggest possible solutions such as better communication with your manager or flexible work hours.

Can I Sue My Employer for Workplace Stress?

Federal and Pennsylvania state law protect employees from negligence and unsafe working environments. However, if the stress claims are based on demanding hours, a difficult supervisor, or other incidents, your situation may fall under workers’ compensation. When a situation is against the law such as discrimination due to a legally protected status, you have a case against your employer.

Always pursue a solution within your company before filing a lawsuit against your employer. Although uncomfortable, trying to find a solution before filing a lawsuit proves to the court that you did everything within your power to fix the situation.

Types of Workplace Stress

Due to federal and state laws, many types of injuries that might occur due to workplace stress fall under the jurisdiction of workers’ compensation.

Physical Stress Injuries

For example, workplace stress can happen when an office manager is diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome because his or her job is mainly typing. Another worker who moves boxes day-in and day-out could end up suffering a back injury due to the workplace stress of those specific tasks.

To be eligible for workers’ comp you must have a timely incident report about your injury. This is a necessary document to begin your claim application. Thus, a medical examination is vital to your application to determine that your injury was work-related.

Possible Workers’ Compensation Benefits

  • Payment of medical treatment
  • Permanent impairment benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Weekly compensation benefits

Your return to work is just as important as your workers’ compensation claims. Take the steps to talk with your employer to ensure that your work space will not further complicate your healing process.

Emotional/Mental Stress Injuries

Pennsylvania state law makes it difficult to prove emotional or mental stress injuries for workers’ compensation. After all, the government doesn’t want every situation to turn into a claim of workplace stress injury. A claim for mental stress will be structured best with the help of a lawyer.

To further help your case, you should be sure that you’ve had a medical professional examine you. In most cases, to be eligible for workers’ compensation or lawsuit, your mental or emotional stress should be so severe that it renders you either permanently or temporarily disabled.

An employee trying to file a claim for workers’ compensation also must be able to show that their stress injury occurred due to an “abnormal working condition.” For example, a common situation at your workplace would not be considered abnormal. You must be able to show that the situation causing your stress injury was not normal for your industry and job location.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

When conduct against you is so bad and not covered by workers’ compensation, you might have a case of personal injury. Some cases are filed under negligent infliction of emotional distress or intentional infliction of emotional distress. To win a personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to prove the occurrence of some pretty awful behavior.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)

An employer who caused you to experience emotional distress by failing to uphold an employer duty can be sued. You must be able to clearly prove that your distress was a direct result of the negligence.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

Extreme and crazy behavior by the employer that is not only intentional but reckless is the cause of your emotional distress. Your claim must prove that your employer’s behavior was extreme and intentional.

If you think you might have a case, your best bet is to run the situation by an attorney. He or she will be able to determine if your situation would be viable under the law.

Sue Your Employer for Employee Actions

Sometimes an employer is liable for the conduct of employees. When the conduct is a part of the employee’s job and it caused the emotional distress, the employer would be liable. An example might be if mall security wrongfully accused a shopper of theft over the intercom.

3 Facts to Prove for Lawsuit

The employer…

  • Acknowledged the specific behavior.
  • Understood the harmfulness of the conduct.
  • Neglected to take steps to rectify the problem.

In most situations, emotional distress often accompanies other claims such as sexual harassment, discrimination, or wrongful termination. The law holds an employer responsible when an employee has filed many complaints over a period of time and the employer has not initiated any interactive process toward a solution.


You can sue your employer for workplace stress, but certain criteria must be in place to ensure a favorable outcome in your favor. An employment lawyer can help to determine whether or not you have a case under law.

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