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Can I Get Workers' Comp Benefits for Work-Related Stress?

Work can be stressful. Although work-related stress can typically be temporary as soon as you meet an important deadline or resolve a conflict with your coworker, there are many instances where employees suffer ongoing stress and anxiety that can lead to severe psychiatric issues.

So, is it possible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for work-related stress in California? It depends on the circumstances.

While California doesn’t have a law regarding workplace stress, employees can qualify for workers’ compensation if they suffer a psychiatric injury as a result of such stress.

According to state law, you may qualify for workers’ comp benefits for a psychiatric injury if all these requirements are met:

  1. You have worked for your employer for at least six months
  2. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) lists your psychiatric condition (e.g. major depression or generalized anxiety)
  3. You have proof that actual workplace incidents are the main cause of your condition—by at least 51 percent
  4. Your condition wasn’t the result of your employer’s good faith or non-discriminatory actions, such as criticisms about work performance or attendance, decisions regarding promotions and raises, and changes of work duties applied to all employees
  5. The litigation process didn’t lead to your condition
  6. Unless your employer was aware of your condition, you filed a claim after being fired

To successfully file a workers’ compensation claim based on a psychiatric injury, you must have a detailed testimony from a certified physician. The testimony includes information about your health history, work performance, and other factors that contribute to your stress.

Furthermore, if your physician determines your work-related stress is a “serious health condition,” you could be eligible protected unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Acts (CFRA). If your employer denies, interferes, or refuses to grant your leave, you can file a lawsuit.

For more information about workplace stress and workers’ compensation, contact Smolich & Smolich today at (916) 571-0400 and request a free consultation today.