What Are Emotional Damages from Employment Discrimination and Can Lawyers Ask Courts to Compensate Employees for Anxiety or Other Distress in 2023?
Federal and state civil rights laws recognize that workers may obtain compensatory damages for discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex or gender identity, among other things. These damages also cover emotional pain and suffering, reduction in happiness, inconvenience, and other harms that one might think are difficult to measure or repair.
Employment discrimination and sexual harassment often cause more economic than emotional harm. Poor treatment and a terrible working environment can force a person to leave their position and lose potentially decades of salary, fringe benefits, and retirement contributions.
Similarly, a refusal to hire a new worker on discriminatory grounds, a refusal to promote a worker due to their identity once hired, or a decision to tolerate harassment that degrades the workplace can reduce the salaries and slow the career advancement of affected workers.
Still, the anxiety, upset, mental disorders, depressive symptoms, and disabilities resulting from unlawful employment discrimination or harassment can be even more damaging than the economic effects.
First, being fired or feeling compelled to quit because of discrimination or harassment can be embarrassing, traumatic, depressing, and detrimental to one’s physical health. Thus, the cost of treating a mental condition or disorder can be high, perhaps higher than the salary lost due to a discriminatory failure to promote or due to switching jobs to escape unlawful harassment. Medical bills, inpatient stays, psychiatrist visits, group therapy, and medication costs can result from emotional distress or damage.
Second, the loss of enjoyment of life, and harm to familial or friendship bonds, as well as reduction in one’s reputation and standing, may be severe. Divorce, loss of full custody, and social isolation can all result from a crisis in one’s workplace or career.
Third, a mental condition can affect one’s career or working hours years after leaving an initially discriminatory or harassing workplace. Mental disorders can be disabilities that make a person unable to work in the field they were trained or educated in. Even short of disability status, mental conditions can affect hours worked, relationships with co-workers or supervisors, ability to connect with existing or potential clients of one’s employer, and networking with future clients or industry leaders.
Difficulties sleeping, concentrating on work, accepting stressful situations, and meeting new people can relate to these impacts of emotional damages.
It is essential to know your rights regarding workplace discrimination or harassment. A free consultation can help you understand your rights and take action to protect them, including by contacting human resources or the government.
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