Is there Compensation for Stress at Work?

Many people have stressful jobs, which interfere with their peace of mind and personal wellbeing. Emotional distress or mental illness that is incurred at the workplace can be identified as a ‘psychiatric injury’. Adverse working conditions that lead to anxiety or depression can greatly reduce an employee’s productivity, whilst taking a toll on their personal/home life. The question is: who is liable for stress at work? The worker will surely blame the company owner, CEO, manager, or supervisor, but each of them will readily disagree. One might expect that any kind negative effect of the job on a person’s health would be covered by worker’s compensationinsurance, but that is not the case.

Employment law in most states of the U.S do not normally approve of psychiatric injuries, unless they are associated with a physical workplace injury. For example, if you had a slip and fall accident at the working site that led to a broken bone in your leg, PTSD resulting from that injury looks genuine; you may qualify for punitive damages in addition to economic reimbursement. California, Oregon, Illinois, and Minnesota are a few states that are likely to cater to a ‘stress claim’ or ‘mental-mental claim’, i.e. workplace injuries that are purely psychological.

Insurance companies and employers are usually suspicious of worker’s compensation claims that are based upon anxiety and depression. It is believed that the mental conditions owe to other aspects of the person’s life, rather than work. At times, work is only one of the dozen problems that contribute to a person’s stress levels. The employee could be going through an ugly divorce, struggling with debt, or perhaps experiencing a midlife crisis. Therefore, you may have to chase rainbows in order to prove that your stress injury is exclusively the consequence of your job.

If your boss forces you to work overtime or exhaust yourself by the end of the day without any incentive, you need evidence to back up that allegation. Your psychiatric injury claim should be successful if it was sudden and fatal; for instance, if you have a mental breakdown during working hours and faint, the connection of the injury to your job is more obvious. You shall have witnesses (coworkers) to confirm the incident and your employer will have a hard time denying the facts. You may expect compensation for missed work during the time you need to recover and resume your duties.

If the stress at work is related to workplace discrimination, harassment, or violence, then the circumstances change. You may have the option to sue your company after you try to resolve the issue out of court. You can start by talking to the person or people at work who are the source of your misery. For the sake of documentation, you can write them an email, informing them of how their behavior makes you feel uncomfortable or anxious. If your offender does not cooperate or you consider them dangerous, take the matter to the HR department. Your complaint to the HR will prove that the company was aware of your mistreatment; hence, when you file a lawsuit, they won’t be able to say otherwise.

Insurance providers and business owners always argue that faking a compromised mental/emotional condition is easy. If a certified practitioner has issued medical reports that validate your psychiatric injury, your chances for receiving compensation get better. It is also important that you file the stress claim while you are still employed. Worker’s compensation lawsuits are often denied if initiated after being laid off; the employer will simply call it an act of retaliation or revenge for firing you from the job for fair reason.