Can You Sue Your Employer For Emotional Distress?

  1. Sexual Harassment
  2. Can You Sue Your Employer For Emotional Distress?
Woman Uncomfortable

If you have suffered mental or emotional distress caused by sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be entitled to sue your employer.

Emotional distress can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Shock
  • Embarrassment
  • Humiliation
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Other harm to your psychological well-being

Usually, damages are awarded for emotional distress when it accompanies an associated physical injury. But, in some cases, you may be awarded damages for emotional distress, even when it does not accompany any physical harm.

This is particularly true if someone’s conduct was intentional or so outrageous that it makes sense to hold that person liable for the distress they have caused.

Suing Your Employer For Emotional Distress

Once you notify your employer that you are being sexually harassed at work, your employer has a legal duty to you, under both state and federal human rights laws, to promptly investigate this complaint and to take whatever measures are needed to stop the harassment and to restore to you any employment benefits or opportunities that you have lost as a result of the harassment.

Your employer also has an obligation to keep your complaint confidential and to ensure that you are not subject to any retaliation as a result of filing the complaint or participating in any investigation, hearing, proceeding, or litigation thereof.

If your employer breaches its duty to you with regard to your sexual harassment complaint, you may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit against your employer in which you may be awarded damages, including compensation for the emotional distress you have endured because it did not handle your sexual harassment complaint properly or because your employer, or an agent of your employer, retaliated against you.

How Much Can You Recover For Emotional Distress?

The maximum amount you can recover under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is capped at $300,000. Likewise, the amount recoverable for emotional distress under the Tennessee Human Rights Act will be a subset of the total amount of compensatory damages awarded and will be no more than $300,000, depending on the number of employees your employer had at the time of the offense.

To help determine the extent of your emotional distress, the amount of psychiatric, psychological, or general counseling you required, or any diagnosis you have received will play huge a role. Furthermore, with these types of claims, the particular facts and circumstances of the harassment you have endured will be extremely important.

How an Experienced Employment Law Attorney Can Help

The requirements for recovering damages are very specific and can be complex. Furthermore, strict timelines apply to filing a claim.

If you believe that you have suffered emotional distress and are thinking about filing a lawsuit against your employer, consult with a qualified employment law attorney. Consulting with an experienced employment law attorney as early as possible will give you the best chance to succeed.

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