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Considered by the World Health Organization as the health epidemic of the 21st century, stress is an inevitable part of living and working. Stress at work, in particular, is associated with less productivity, being unhealthy and demotivated, safety issues, depression, and anxiety disorders.

There are a lot of factors that may contribute to workplace stress. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Strained relationship with coworkers
  • Pressure to meet increasing expectations without the increase in job satisfaction
  • Increased instances of overtime due to staff cutbacks
  • Fear of being laid off
  • Not feeling physically and emotionally safe at work
  • Suffering from bullying or harassment

When it comes to workplace stress, the law is behind you. For one, the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires every employer to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), an employee can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if the stress at work already affects with performance and productivity.

In California, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for psychiatric injuries. A physician’s confirmation is required to back up a claim. The injured employee must prove that actual events in the workplace are the predominantly caused the stress and injury. It should also be noted that stress is not listed as a psychiatric disorder in the DSM-V; however, it may be a symptom of other conditions such as depression and anxiety.      

If the stress is due to ordinary incidents within the workplace such as long hours, demanding supervisor, and difficult coworkers, you can make a claim under the workers’ compensation system. On the other hand, if stress is caused by harassment or discrimination, you may have a claim under state or federal law, such as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

What to do

First, tell someone about it. If you can, make a formal report and submit it to your superiors. The documentation can help you with whatever action you are going to take. Ask your HR department about company rules as to reporting such claims so you’ll know what to do and make sure your rights are protected.

It can also help if you let trusted coworkers know about your situation. Ask them to take notes on what they personally observe. Keep a journal of events at work that you seem relevant to your case and be as specific as possible.

If your employer refuses to take action to remove job-related stressors after you have spoken to them, you can seek the help of an employment lawyer in filing a complaint. If, on the other hand, you are unable to resolve matters with your employer, but do not wish to file a lawsuit, remember that you have the choice to leave. Prioritize your mental health.

Are you suffering from excessive stress at work? Contact us at Hogan Injury for expert legal advice.

None of the content on is legal advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified lawyer. Please consult a legal professional for further information.

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