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Can I Sue My New York City Employer for Stress and Anxiety?

Yes, it is possible to sue an employer for stress and anxiety arising out of employment discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Stress and anxiety are forms of emotional distress that the court can try to quantify. They are compensable when they have a causal relationship to an employer’s discriminatory actions. At Phillips and Associates, our seasoned New York City employment discrimination lawyers understand how painful and difficult it is to be discriminated against based on an aspect of your identity or past personal history. We are dedicated to fighting for workers who have experienced emotional distress due to discrimination arising out of protected characteristics.

If you have been wronged by your powerful employer because you possess a protected trait, we can fight for your rights. In most cases, employers are reluctant to pay workers anything for what they’ve suffered. Your employer may actively avoid any responsibility for what happened to you and bury information you need to recover damages to which you’re entitled. You need a skillful litigator by your side.

Suing Your New York City Employer for Stress and Anxiety Under State Law

Under the state antidiscrimination law, our attorneys may be able to recover losses for your stress and anxiety as a form of emotional distress damages if you are discriminated against based on:

  • Disability
  • Marital status
  • Sex
  • Military status
  • Gender identity or expression
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Color
  • Creed
  • Age
  • Race.

In a lawsuit, we must be able to prove to a jury that your anxiety and stress were causally related to the discrimination or harassment you endured. The harshness of your employer’s actions could affect the distress you felt, thereby impacting damages. Additionally, the quantity of emotional distress damages you can recover may be affected by how frequent and continuous the discrimination or harassment was.

There are many different workplace situations that could cause emotional distress to an employee with a protected trait. Suppose, for example, you are a Black accountant called racial slurs by your supervisor and you came to work to find a noose was placed on your desk. We know this is a stressful, anxiety-producing experience; particularly given the historically violent context of this imagery. Our lawyers understand nuances of both overt racism and microaggressions to assist in obtaining damages to compensate for your emotional distress if we can establish your employer is liable under state or local law for the race discrimination and harassment you suffered.

To use a different example, you may have a religious discrimination claim under the New York State Human Rights Law if you were denied a promotion because you are a Sikh who wears a turban and your employer believes that, as a result, you don’t present the right image for the company. This type of discrimination can produce significant stress and anxiety. Your feelings may be exacerbated if the failure to promote is accompanied or preceded by harassment or followed by retaliation for filing a charge.

Workplace harassment by a supervisor that involves physical assault or the threat of it is likely to result in stress, anxiety and other emotional distress. Additionally, your emotional distress may manifest in physical symptoms like vomiting, intestinal issues, respiratory issues, panic attacks, insomnia, and fear of intimacy.

How to be compensated for Stress and Anxiety Under City Law

Historically, the New York City Human Rights Law has provided greater relief than state or federal laws, but state law has been amended to provide similar protections. The city law applies to employers that have at least four employees. Our attorneys can sue for emotional distress arising out of discrimination based on:

  • Color
  • Race
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Immigration or Citizenship Status
  • Gender
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Pregnancy
  • Lactation accommodations
  • Marital status
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Veteran status or active military service member
  • Arrest or criminal conviction record
  • Caregiver status
  • Pre-employment marijuana testing
  • Credit history
  • Sexual and reproductive health decisions
  • Salary history
  • Domestic violence victim status.

You may feel anxious about the impact of your past on your present-day career. When liability can be established under city law, you may be able to recover emotional distress damages related to your stress and anxiety. Emotional distress damages might be available if you are:

  • A nursing new mother who is denied lactation accommodations on the job.
  • A domestic violence victim denied an accommodation to testify against your abusive spouse in a domestic violence trial.
  • A worker arrested years ago for a crime that doesn’t bear on your job.

Federal Antidiscriminatino Laws

Federal antidiscrimination laws such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cap the compensatory and punitive damages you can recover. The cap varies depending on the size of the business. Generally, the amount of your damages for anxiety and stress are likely to be larger if you work for a huge company and what you experienced is severe. However, your total compensatory damages will not exceed the amount of the cap.

How Employment Lawyers Recover for Emotional Distress

If you were doing well prior to the discrimination, we should be able to obtain the full range of your emotional losses. Sometimes employers argue that plaintiffs were suffering from mental health issues before the discriminatory or harassing conduct and try to delve into their mental health. You may still be able to hold a New York City employer responsible for any decline in your emotional functioning or a worsening of your stress and anxiety. Phillips & Associates has years of representing workers who have suffered stress and anxiety due to employment discrimination in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.

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