Can You Sue Your Employer for Workplace Induced Stress?

May 29, 2022

California ranked the 14th most stressed state in the country according to a WalletHub study shared on NBC Los Angeles, which included over 40 key stress indicators. Furthermore, the American Psychological Association (APA) reports that work is among the top three stressors for Americans. Work can be challenging, and many workers across the country feel overwhelmed or under pressure, with the primary sources being their jobs, supervisors, or employers. According to a study conducted by Stanford University regarding workplace stressors and health, the looming threat of job insecurity increases the likelihood of poor health by 50%. In comparison, long work hours increase mortality by almost 20%, and high-demand jobs substantially increase the probability of a physician-diagnosed illness by 35%.

Stress at work and related strains can tip the scales towards unhealthy and unmanageable levels if they continue or increase. Eventually, physical or emotional distress can manifest into other struggles and illnesses. Stress can lead to various ailments such as anxiety, panic disorder, depression, hypertension, alcoholism, substance abuse, and other adverse reactions (e.g., if job stress is extreme or compounded by additional workplace factors). You are likely facing more than typical job-related challenges if any of these apply to you.

What to do when workplace stress becomes too much to endure

If you or a loved one is feeling abnormal amounts of job-related stress, you can seek help from a physician, HR, or an employment litigation attorney. The practice of portraying picture-perfect lives on social media platforms, combined with the competitive mindset that seems almost necessary to pursue the American dream, may cause some to keep their heads down and push forward despite experiencing excessive stress at work. However, such an approach can be dangerous and even deadly. Stanford and Harvard University uncovered a shocking reality: workplace stress contributes directly to a minimum of 120,000 deaths in the US each year, and the actual figure is presumably much higher.

Major workplace stressors: what are they, and what do they do?

An employee can experience workplace stress if they suffer any physical or emotional distress because of workplace demands and the lack of control one has over those demands.

10 of the Most Significant Workplace Stressors

Stress at work can arise from a single event or multiple factors. Below are 10 stressors you should be aware of:

  1. Job insecurity. An employee who is concerned that they may lose their job due to an uncertain economy
  2. Increasing demands placed on employees (doing more than your job description, and working overtime) due to reduced staffing
  3. Workplace redundancy and the prospect of losing your job for no apparent reason
  4. Pressures to meet added requirements and productivity demands without increasing job satisfaction or pay to compensate for added responsibilities
  5. Feeling threatened at work, physically or emotionally unsafe, or a singular violent or traumatic and frightening event
  6. Workplace discrimination (g., racism, sex or gender discrimination, ageism, disability discrimination, and pregnancy-related discrimination)
  7. A tense relationship with coworkers, or when an employee is the victim of workplace harassment
  8. Sexual harassment
  9. Workplace or employer misconduct
  10. Derogatory remarks, actions, or crude and rude humor directed at you and your protected characteristics

Employees may experience adverse effects and consequences due to job-related stressors and harms. Additionally, stress can cause low motivation, illnesses, anxiety, depression, absenteeism, alcoholism, be a root cause of struggles outside of work, and even result in death over time. The importance of learning your rights as an employee and taking action cannot be overstated. You can begin improving your situation, stop the harm from continuing, and even seek justice.

My employer is causing me work-related stress. Can I sue?

California and federal laws protect workers from excessive stress, unsafe working conditions, harassment, and negligence. Therefore, it is possible to sue your employer in some instances. Worker compensation claims may be appropriate if the stressor is work-related, such as an overbearing boss or excessive overtime. In contrast, state regulations or federal laws, such as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, may cover illegal harassment or discrimination.

To determine which course of action suits your workplace-related stress claim and circumstances, consult an experienced employment law attorney.


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