Sometimes, conduct in the workplace is not necessarily discriminatory, but it is so outrageous that it may be actionable in its own right. In those situations, you may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
To maintain an action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, you must prove that the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly. More specifically, it must be shown that either: (1) the defendant intended both to do the act and to produce the emotional distress; or (2) that the defendant acted recklessly in deliberate disregard of a high probability that emotional distress would follow. The touchstone of this tort is the extreme and uncommon nature of the actor’s conduct. To form the basis of an independent claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the conduct involved must be “extraordinarily despicable” to the average member of the community.
Where individual acts fail to rise to the necessary level of outrageousness to support an emotional distress claim, some Courts have held that a pattern of indignities may be sufficient. For example, in one case, the plaintiff accused her employer of discrimination on the basis of her disability and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Although the Bishop court was “skeptical” of plaintiff’s ability to meet the high standard for an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, given the litany of alleged incidents and the asserted “continuing pattern of harassment”, the Court allowed the claim to proceed. 864 F. Supp. at 428.
Severe distress must be proved, but in many cases the extreme and outrageous character of the defendant’s conduct is, by itself, important evidence that the distress. As such, it is for a court to determine whether on the evidence presented severe emotional distress can be found; it is for the jury to determine whether, on the evidence, severe emotional distress in fact exists.
Contact a skilled discrimination attorney in Mercer County
Determining whether you have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress requires the assistance of an experienced Mercer County discrimination attorney. If you believe you are the victim of the infliction of emotional distress, please contact the law office of Zuckerman & Fisher, L.L.C. online or at 609.514.0514 to speak with a seasoned discrimination attorney in Mercer County.