When we think of
workplace injuries, we typically imagine those related to physical harm. However, employees
can suffer mental injuries as well.
Even though some job-related stress is normal, excessive stress can negatively
affect your performance, productivity, your personal life, and your health.
But if workplace stress leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental
disorders, is it covered by workers’ compensation in Texas?
According to state law, an emotional or mental injury caused by valid personnel
actions is not covered by workers’ compensation. In other words,
you are not eligible for benefits if your work-related stress was due
to a lawful order your employer gave.
Valid personnel actions include:
- Termination or getting fired
- An employer’s deadlines
- An employer’s requirement for a certain amount of hours to be worked
- Being reprimanded by an employer for performing one’s job
- Any work related to your job duties
- Interpersonal conflict
For example, if you are suffering from excessive stress due to working
long hours each day because you are constantly covering for an absent
employee’s shift, you are not eligible for workers’ compensation
since working extra hours is normal, especially if you are being compensated
for it. If your boss constantly gets angry and yells profanities throughout
each workday, if his/her behavior isn’t directed personally at you
or if he/she isn’t exercising discrimination, such behavior will
not raise any flags. Again, stress can be a normal part of the workplace.
However, emotional or mental health claims must be associated with a specific
traumatic event in order to be covered by workers’ compensation
in Texas. You need to prove a definitive link between the event and your
stress or mental injury.
For example, you were stabbed by a stranger who walked into the work site.
After recovering from your injuries, you return to work doing the same
job. However, the sight of your building brings back painful memories
of the incident, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since
the mental health issue related to a traumatic incident, the PTSD would
be covered by workers’ compensation.
Additionally, if you witnessed a traumatic event in which you didn’t
suffer any direct physical harm, your mental injury could also be covered.
Let’s say you were working on a construction site and you see a
fellow employee get crushed and killed by falling debris. If you end up
suffering from mental trauma due to witnessing that incident, you are
eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you are suffering from work-related stress or any other mental health
disorder in the workplace,
contact our Fort Worth workers’ comp lawyer at the
Law Office of James M. Stanley today and schedule a free consultation.