Can I sue my employer for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Seattle, WA

Management was made aware in writing, verbally & witnessed workplace violence (severe verbal abuse) on several occasions. Being the subject of this abuse affected my health which I communicated in writing to management. This aggressive verbal abuse was in violation of several company policies. Management however did not want the corporate offices to become aware of any negativity in our office so policy was ignored & my distress dismissed. Management caused further distress by repeatedly pressuring me to work closely w/abuser & also blaming me for the distress being present. Management told me not to speak to anyone about this situation. After going to HR about this I was terminated which caused further distress. Co-workers witnessed the abuse & yet the company denies any abuse happened

Attorney answers (4)

  1. 4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The courts have set a very high bar for that kind of claim. If the abuse was directed at you because of your gender, age, race, etc., then you have a discrimination claim. Hope this helps.

  2. 1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I agree with Mr. Higgins. This claim, sometimes also referred to as the tort of "outrage," is exceedingly difficult to win. Alternatively, you might consider "negligent infliction of emotional distress" along with the appropriate discrimination claim if one is implicated. These are issues that should be assessed by an employment law attorney. I urge you to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible; he or she will be able to better advise you after learning more about the salient facts. Good luck to you.

    This does not constitute legal advice. You should consult an attorney who can assess the facts of your case and... more
  3. 1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I do not feel that you are going to get a full or fair answer to this in an e-mail setting like this. Employment litigation is very fact specific and I feel you may have missed a few things in your description. You may actually have a legal claim here and you would do well to take advantage of either free or low cost initial consult with a lawyer to help properly identify all the issues. Make a timeline of what happened. Identify the actors and their position titles. If you have an employment manual bring that with you - when you go to see an attorney...which is something I believe you really should do. In my office I generally offer one hour consults at $100 to try to help people in your position identify issues.

  4. 2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with Mr. Higgins, what was the genesis of the hostility? It must be related to a protected status. Otherwise, the claim would fall under a workers' compensation claim based on the theory of negligence.

    Herbert Tan, Esq.

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    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice.... more

Related Topics

Emotional distress caused by personal injury

Emotional distress refers to the negative mental effects an injury has, including fear, loss of sleep, depression, and other effects.


Employment law governs employee pay, non-discrimination policies, employment classifications, and hiring and firing at the federal, state, and local levels.

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