Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress by Employers

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What Is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) is a type of tort that causes some kind of act or conduct that is so terrible that it causes the other person emotional distress or trauma. When this happens, the victim who suffered IIED can recover compensatory damages and punitive damages from the person who caused the emotional distress. Not all conduct qualifies as a intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Sometimes a victim suffers IIED in the workplace because of an employer's intentional conduct causing the employee severe emotional distress.

How Do I Prove Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress by my Employer?

In order to bring an action against your employer for intentional infliction of emotional distress, you must allege and prove the following: 

Note, however, that there is no requirement of an actual bodily injury to accompany a victim’s emotional distress. It is enough to prove that a victim suffered severe emotional distress as a result of outrageous conduct.

What Does "Extreme and Outrageous Conduct" Mean? 

"Extreme and outrageous conduct" means conduct that goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society. If courts in your state accept this definition, the standard is that of a reasonable prudent person. In other words, the co-worker’s or employer’s conduct must be outrageous to an average reasonable person.

The following may NOT likely be considered an outrageous conduct:

However, here are two factors that may make it easier to prove such outrageous conduct at work:

How Do I Prove That I Have Suffered Severe Emotional Distress?

All courts require that the injured employee's emotional distress be "severe" before he/she can bring a lawsuit. "Severe" means so intense that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. Generally, the best way to prove that you have suffered severe emotional distress is by showing some physical symptoms of emotional distress. They may include: 

While not all courts require that the injured employee exhibit physical symptoms of emotional distress in order to bring a suit, the case will be much stronger if the symptoms are present.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress vs. Workers’ Compensation

A claim for workers’ compensation may prevent you from filing an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. However, workers’ compensation will not affect your emotional distress claim if:

When Is an Employer Responsible for a Co-Worker's Conduct?

Employee may support his claim that the employer is responsible for the co-worker's conduct by showing the following facts:

The determination of the employer's responsibility is a factual issue that depends on the facts and circumstances of each case as well as the state laws.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or a loved one has been injured by the intentional or negligent acts of another, you should speak to an attorney immediately to learn more about protecting your rights. A personal injury lawyer or employment discrimination lawyer will be able to explain the value of your case and help you navigate through the complicated legal process. Most lawyers who handle these types of personal injury matters work on a contingency basis. 

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Last Modified: 04-12-2017 03:13 AM PDT

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