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Can You Sue an Employer for Emotional Distress in Ohio?

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Since we spend so many hours in the workplace, the environment where you work can largely impact your overall well-being and especially your mental health.

But if your employer or manager targets you and creates a hostile work atmosphere, you may be a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. In some cases, you may be able to sue your employer for emotional distress or pursue a workers’ comp claim to recover monetary damages.

What Is Emotional Distress?

The Legal Information Institute defines emotional distress as an emotional response to an experience that arises from the effect or memory of an event, occurrence, pattern of events, or condition. Common symptoms of emotional distress include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of ability to perform tasks
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Persistent feelings of worry or guilt
  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness

Tort law recognizes two causes of action that involve infliction of emotional distress: intentional and negligent infliction. Successful legal claims of emotional distress against employers usually fall under intentional infliction.

Emotional Distress Lawsuits against Employers in Ohio

Unfortunately, suing your employer for incidents inducing emotional distress is difficult under Ohio law. Personal injury lawsuits against employers that hinge on emotional distress claims rarely move forward since suffering emotional distress on its own is not enough for a claim.

Emotional distress claims are usually included in other allegations of employment law violations such as discrimination, harassment, and illegal retaliation lawsuits.
Many injury claims relating to emotional distress brought on by work are instead handled through the state’s workers’ compensation bureau.

However, the criteria to file a successful workers’ comp claim including emotional distress is quite narrow. In 2013, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that employees must be able to prove a direct relationship between a mental health injury and a physical injury suffered at work; this burden of proof can be challenging for claimants to meet.

Physical vs. Emotional Injuries

The biggest reason why proving emotional distress is difficult in a lawsuit or workers’ comp claim is that psychological injuries are often subjective.
Claiming damages for physical injuries at work is more straightforward in many cases; for example, it is simpler to prove a link between working on an assembly line and a repetitive stress injury.

Physical injuries can be documented and supported by witnesses and medical records, whereas it is much more complicated to prove a sole connection between anxiety or depression and someone’s work environment.

With Ohio’s condition that the mental distress occur because of an injury received at work, a successful workers’ comp claim for emotional distress is infrequent but not impossible.

Necessary Evidence for a Successful Emotional Distress Lawsuit

To pursue a successful emotional distress lawsuit against your employer, you must prove the following elements:

  • Your employer’s conduct was extreme and outrageous
  • Your employer intended to inflict emotional distress
  • Your employer’s actions directly caused your emotional distress
  • Your emotional distress was severe and damaging

As mentioned, proving these components in court can be tough. If you believe you are experiencing emotional distress because of your employer, keep a record of every incident you experience at work.

If you were hurt at work and notice emotional distress due to your injuries, reach out to a mental health professional right away.

Considering an Emotional Distress Lawsuit? Call Biller & Kimble, LLC

If you are suffering emotional distress because of your employer, you don’t need the added stress of taking on a lawsuit or workers’ comp claim alone. Biller & Kimble, LLC can pursue your emotional distress lawsuit or claim on your behalf so you can focus on feeling better. We will thoroughly discuss the details of your case and help you choose the best option for your circumstances.
Call us today at (513) 202-0710 to get started or contact us online.