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?
Can I File Workers Compensation For Stress?
In short, no you cannot file workers compensation for stress. 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.
PTSD And Workers Comp
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 worksite. 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, 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 for stress.
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.