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Workplace bullying and workers’ compensation in California

male worker with headache

Workplace bullying can have a serious impact on workers’ mental and emotional well-being. They may develop sleep issues, anxiety, depression and other psychological problems, making it difficult for them to do their jobs.

When bullying causes mental illness, employees may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

There needs to be a connection to the workplace

For workers to qualify for workers’ compensation based on bullying-related depression and anxiety, there must be a direct connection between the workplace bullying and the resulting mental health conditions. A medical professional generally establishes this link. A proper evaluation and treatment plan strengthens workers’ cases.

Employees also need to document how these conditions impact their job performance. Documentation may include records of changes in work habits, decreased productivity or interactions with supervisors and colleagues that reflect the effect on their ability to perform their job effectively. The bullying does not have to be the sole factor contributing to the mental health issues. It can be one contributor in conjunction with many.

There are time constraints

Workers cannot receive workers’ compensation for mental complaints unless they are at least six-month employees of their companies. This limit does not apply to the bullying. As long as there is a provable connection between the harassment and the mental conditions, it does not matter how long the bullying lasted.

According to a 2021 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 30% of Americans have some experience of work-related bullying. When it leads at least partially to mental health problems, workers may qualify for workers’ compensation. They can also file discrimination claims.