Can You Sue Your Boss for Emotional Distress in California?

by | Feb 6, 2023 | Uncategorized

People don’t leave a job; they leave a bad boss. This statement is true for many people who have jobs and have to tolerate an awful boss. Some bosses are so unfriendly and hostile that they make the lives of their employees very difficult. In some cases, it might lead to emotional distress. If you are in a similar situation and you are wondering can you sue your boss for emotional distress in California, then read on. Here we have tried to explain it all.

The Answer

There is no simple answer to whether you can sue your boss for emotional distress in California. The answer depends on your specific circumstances. In some cases, you can sue your employer for emotional distress. In others, you can’t.

You can sue for emotional distress at work if the basis of the lawsuit involves a public policy issue. It would help if you also remembered that, as per California law, workers’ compensation is usually the exclusive remedy for harmed workers. It includes those facing emotional distress at work due to their boss.

Key Examples

Some public policy issues allow you to sue your employer or boss for emotional distress. Examples include violations of work safety regulations, violations regarding wage and break, and even violations pertaining to the California Whistleblower Protection Act. Workplace discrimination is also covered by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. It would help if you sorted out how the bosses’ emotionally distressing actions can be related to workplace law violations before filing a lawsuit.

Types of Emotional Distress Cases

When considering suing your boss for emotional distress in California, you must know the following.

The lawsuit can be for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED)

You can also sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NEID)

Make sure you are clear on the wrongful actions of your boss or employer before filing the lawsuit and pick the right category.

What is IIED?

It is the abbreviation of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. When you file a lawsuit with IIED, you need to prove that the boss/employer has engaged in outrageous conduct and that the employer/boss intended to cause you emotional distress. You can also prove that the boss/employer had reckless disregard for the probability of causing you emotional distress.

You also must prove that the boss/employer caused your emotional distress and that you suffered severe or extreme emotional distress. To prove it, you must prove the actual and proximate causes of the distress you suffered.

What is NIED?

Again, it’s an abbreviation for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. To prove NIED, you need to prove that the boss/employer was negligent and it was the key reason for your severe emotional distress.

In this method, you need to prove that your boss/employer caused you damage by breaching a duty they owed you. You need to sort out your claim very smartly.

Talk to an Expert!

If you have more questions regarding can you sue your boss for emotional distress in California, feel free to connect with the team of Laura M. Wilson. In addition to helping you get legal advice from an expert, we can help you return to work more confidently after a break, after you recover.

We provide a broad array of services such as SJDB Service, RTWSP Service, Expert Witness, Vocational Evaluation, Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Services, and Transferable Skills Analysis.

Our vocational rehabilitation counselors will decide which services are right for you and offer a solution that helps you return to work and retain your job if you want to.

To book a one-on-one session with one of our experts, book an appointment here or call us toll-free at (800) 531-5608. Our team of experts will devote time to listening to your case and provide you with a customized solution. Get in touch today!


Can I Sue My Boss for Emotional Distress in California?


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