Can You Sue For Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against Employer in Ohio?

Barkan Meizlish , December 13, 2019

Can an Employer Be Sued for Emotional Distress in Ohio?

You can file an emotional distress lawsuit against your employer if you have proof that some action by the company’s managers triggered serious shame, fear, embarrassment, depression or post-traumatic stress. You will encounter high barriers to succeeding with such a lawsuit, however.

Grounds for Bringing an Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against an Employer

First, state laws in Ohio make it nearly impossible for employees to sue their employers after work-related accidents induce emotional distress. That is to say, personal injury lawsuits, which often include emotional distress claims, almost never move forward against employers when the plaintiff is an employee.

Pretty much every claim related to an on-the-job injury or illness must be handled through the workers’ compensation program. A workers’ comp claim can include requests for the coverage of treatment for mental and emotional problems that develop as a result of the injury or illness, but the program will not approve a claim for just emotional distress.

The types of lawsuits against employers that can include claims for emotional distress usually relate to violations of employment laws that prohibit discrimination, harassment and illegal forms of retaliation. For instance, a worker who brings a wrongful termination lawsuit can include a claim for the emotional distress they suffered while unemployed and struggling financially.

Importantly, stress itself cannot support either a workers’ comp claim or a lawsuit against an employer. Lawmakers and courts expect all jobs to be stressful. An employer can only be sued when its managers deliberately make a position more stressful than it needs to be in order to harm an employee or to compel the employee to quit.

Standards of Proof in an Ohio Emotional Distress Lawsuit

To succeed in convincing a judge and jury that you suffered emotional distress because of something you employer did, you must present convincing evidence of all the following facts:

  • Your employer acted recklessly or with intent,
  • The action was illegal or extreme and outrageous,
  • The action directly caused your emotional distress, and
  • Your emotional distress was severe.

You can prove intent by documenting complaints about distressing treatment such as harassment or discrimination. Partnering with an experienced and understanding employee rights attorney will help you cite which laws were violated and to make a case for actions being beyond ordinary teasing or everyday stressors.

You can use medical records, insurance claims, pharmacy bills, and therapists’ notes to demonstrate the connection between the action and your emotional distress. That health information can also establish the severity of the distress.

Finally, to secure a jury award, you must be able to show that your employer knew about the issue that was causing emotional distress and either caused the issue or did nothing to resolve it. Internal records of meetings and emails can be important forms of proof in this regard. At Barkan Meizlish, LLP, our attorneys only advise and represent employees. If you think you have grounds for filing an emotional distress lawsuit against your current or former employer, give us a call at (614) 221-4221 to let us know how we may be of assistance, You can also schedule a consultation online. The initial discussion will cost you nothing.

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