San Antonio, TX asked in Employment Law and Workers' Compensation for Texas

Q: Can a company be sued by an employee for mental and emotional stress?

My daughter is constantly bullied by her boss.

1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: "Stress" is not compensable but "mental anguish" is recoverable for certain breaches of legal duties.

Your daughter will be required to offer "direct evidence of the nature, duration, and severity of her mental anguish, thus establishing a substantial disruption" in the her daily routine or “evidence of a high degree of mental pain and distress that is more than mere worry, anxiety, vexation, embarrassment, or anger.”

“Not only must there be evidence of the existence of compensable mental anguish, there must also be some evidence to justify the amount awarded.” The jury cannot just pick a number. Unsubstantiated anchoring by suggesting damage amounts by analogy to objects or values with no rational connection to the facts of the case is not allowed. There may be direct evidence supporting quantification of an amount of damages, such as evidence of the likely financial consequences of severe emotional disruption in the daughter's life. For example, her anguish may have prevented her from working for some period of time, leading to a loss of wages. Or there may be evidence that some amount of money would enable her to better deal with the anguish she has experienced or to restore her emotional health. While money itself cannot alleviate grief or truly compensate for emotional trauma, it may be that money can provide access to all kinds of things that may help the person who has endured such an experience. An obvious example would be cost of any necessary counseling.

“Generalized, conclusory descriptions of how an event affected a person are insufficient evidence on which to base mental anguish damages.”

In addition, the mental anguish results from a work-related injury, your daughter may be limited to recovering workers' compensation benefits if her employer has workers' compensation insurance.

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