Employees seeking to bring claims against employers for intentional infliction of emotional distress may be barred by the workers compensation act. This act provides that employees effectively waive their rights to bring claims based upon common law such as intentional infliction of emotional distress or other personal injury actions for injuries that are covered by the Workers Compensation Act.
Essentially, workers compensation provides an exclusive remedy for employees’ injuries, and employees can not seek other remedies. The act covers only work-related physical injuries but not emotional ones. Consequently, courts have repeatedly held that claims for emotional injuries resulting from termination and the like fall within the workers compensation act and are barred by this exclusive remedy provision.
This applies not only to injuries sustained by the employee at the hands of their employer, but also to injuries sustained at the hands of their co-employees. Courts have concluded that if the co-employees, while committing the injurious act, are in the course of their employment and furthering the employer’s interest, then the injury is covered exclusively by workers compensation.
Nonetheless, employees are only barred from bringing intentional infliction claims when they meet the statutory requisites of the act. Thus, employees who are not considered employees under the act, or whose injury is not covered under the act, still may be able to bring intentional infliction claims against their employers.