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Do Bullying and Ostracism Now Have a Place in California Workers’ Comp Psychiatric Claims?

The California Labor Code permits workers to file psychiatric injury claims against employers and seek workers' compensation for job-related mental stress that causes injury. The law recognizes that mental stress can lead to mental disorders and physical disorders, and in some instances both. For more information on mental injuries on the job, see our previous blog post.

Most people envision psychological stress that involves bullying, unrealistic production demands or long work hours due to short-staffing. However, the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business in Canada released research showing that ostracism creates more damaging mental stress than bullying or overt abuse.

Bullying is a more obvious form of abuse and has garnered extensive media attention in recent years. By comparison, ostracism is subtle, and surveys showed that the general pubic considered ostracism to be far less devastating.

Statistics did not support this view. The principle that "negative attention is better than no attention" held true. Being ignored and excluded had adverse effects on people, making them feel helpless and unworthy. The study found that people who were ignored experienced greater incidence of the following:

  • Stronger intention to quit their jobs
  • Health problems
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Degraded sense of belonging

How this research plays into psychiatric claims remains to be seen. It may provide new legal evidence for employees pursuing psychiatric claims and at the very least, sends a message to employers about developing company policy that reduces mental stress.

If you experience physical or mental work-related injury, schedule a free consultation with a workers' compensation lawyer to discuss filing a claim. Getting answers to your questions and seeking a legal opinion can help you pursue a successful outcome.

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