Is Excessive Workplace Stress A Legal Issue?

New York employment law attorney ad  

Employers want to cut every little cost they can, which often means that their employees face longer work hours and heavier workloads to compensate for the lack of financial resources. This leads to excess workplace stress that can affect an employee's health.

Research shows that excessive workplace stress is often a major factor in contributing to mental and physical health issues. It can lead to the development of high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease.  

Do employees who work in high stress jobs and suffer mental and physical ailments and diseases have any legal recourse? Is excessive workplace stress an issue for the courts? What rights do employees have?

Has the employee spoken to their primary care physician about their stress levels at work and symptoms? If they haven't then there is no established written connection between their workplace stress levels and their health problems. The first step, then, would be to establish that documentation to show that excessive workplace stress is contributing to the decline in their health.

Is an employer responsible for their employee's excessive workplace stress? While it varies depending on the case, typically the answer is no, unless the employee has a disability. This disability could be anything from a physical disability to a psychiatric diagnosis. The severity of a disability can also be wide ranging.

Disabled employees are members of a protected class, meaning that employers must usually provide them with reasonable accommodations to assist him or her with performing their job. An employer may, in some cases, be exempt from this requirement if it would be a great burden on their business.

If an employee has a disability, they should:

  • See a medical provider to document the disability and what accommodations they would need
  • Inform their boss of their disability and the accommodations they need, backed by medical documentation proof

If after they have taken those two steps and the employer ignores the requests or retaliates against the employee because of the request, then that employer may be acting illegally, committing discrimination, and violating that employee's rights. To find out more about employee rights, consult with an attorney for advice specific to your case.

For more information, send us a message.