In Japan, there’s a word for work-related stress – karōshi, which literally translates to “work death.” Japanese workers have developed fatal health problems such as strokes and heart attacks from working too many hours, forced resignation, bullying, and pressure from management.The problem is pervasive enough in Japan to have a karōshi hotline to support workers and their families and hopefully avoid tragedy due to overwork.
Although the situation in Japan may seem extreme to US employees, work-related stress is a significant concern stateside as well. It refers to the physical and emotional strain that a person experiences due to job demands that exceed their capacity to cope. High-pressure work environments, long hours, hostile workplace dynamics, and unrealistic expectations can all contribute to work-related stress. When it becomes chronic, it can lead to serious health issues such as anxiety, depression, and heart disease. Understanding this concept is the first step towards recognizing the symptoms and knowing when it’s time to seek help. Knowing the signs of work-related stress can empower individuals to take appropriate action to protect their health and wellbeing.
In Nevada, employment law doesn’t specifically address work-related stress. However, it does cover general workplace health and safety standards. For instance, employers have a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment. This includes not only physical safety but also mental wellbeing. When employers neglect this duty, they may be liable for the consequences. Workers’ compensation laws in Nevada may also come into play for stress-related claims, although they are typically geared more towards physical injuries. It’s important for workers to be aware of these laws and how they can be applied in situations involving work-related stress.
In certain situations, an employer can indeed be held liable for an employee’s work-related stress. For instance, if the employer has consistently put the employee under unreasonable demands or has allowed a hostile work environment to persist, they may be held responsible for the resulting stress. In addition, if the employer fails to act upon reported harassment or bullying, this could also lead to liability. It’s also important to note that employers who retaliate against employees for raising these concerns may be held accountable for any stress this retaliation causes. Understanding these situations can help employees know their rights and when an employer might be crossing the line.
Failure to accommodate in the workplace can significantly increase stress levels for employees. In essence, this refers to an employer’s lack of response or unwillingness to make reasonable adjustments for employees with special needs, such as those with disabilities, health issues, or family responsibilities. This failure can add to the employee’s existing burden, amplifying their stress levels. For example, an employee with a chronic health condition might feel more stressed if the employer refuses to adjust work hours or provide necessary equipment. Similarly, a parent might experience added stress if their employer refuses to consider flexible work arrangements. Understanding the impact of accommodation failure is essential in recognizing unfair practices at work.
Negligence plays a crucial role in stress-related claims in the workplace. Essentially, negligence occurs when an employer fails to act with reasonable care towards employees, resulting in harm. In the context of work-related stress, this could mean an employer ignoring signs of an excessively stressful environment, such as unrealistic workloads, bullying, or harassment. If this negligence directly leads to an employee developing stress-related health issues, the employer could potentially be held liable. However, proving negligence can be challenging, as it involves demonstrating that the employer breached their duty of care, this breach directly resulted in harm, and the harm led to tangible damages. Understanding this concept is important for employees to recognize potential negligence in the workplace.
Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can significantly contribute to an employee’s stress levels. Discrimination involves treating someone less favorably based on specific characteristics, such as race, gender, or age. Harassment, on the other hand, involves unwanted behavior aimed to annoy, threaten, or intimidate. Both of these harmful behaviors can lead to a hostile work environment, resulting in increased stress for the victim. Employers are legally obliged to prevent discrimination and harassment and to address any incidents promptly. If they fail to do so, and an employee experiences stress as a result, the employer could potentially be held accountable. It’s important for everyone in the workplace to understand these concepts to ensure a respectful and healthy work environment.
Retaliation in the workplace is another factor that can lead to significant stress. It occurs when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. For instance, if an employee reports harassment or discrimination, or files a workers’ compensation claim, and then faces negative actions from the employer such as demotion, dismissal, or unfavorable job reassignments, it constitutes retaliation. This can result in increased stress levels for the employee who may feel threatened or intimidated. It’s crucial for workers to know that such retaliation is illegal, and they have the right to perform their job free from this kind of behavior. This knowledge can empower them to stand up against unfair treatment in the workplace.
In December 2022, a Henderson firefighter, Clete Najeeb Dadian, died by suicide, which was attributed to the stress of his job as a first responder. Should his family decide to file a wrongful death suit against his employer, it’s possible they could be found liable for damages.
Employee protections for hazardous conditions are gaining more support in Nevada. Recently, the Extreme Weather Working Conditions Bill (S.B. 427) was introduced to modify the current workplace safety and health law by introducing extra requirements in existing safety plans of employers. These include a plan to address heat-related illnesses on days where temperatures are anticipated to hit 95°F or above, along with training for employees who may be affected by such issues. In cases of poor air quality (Air Quality Index value of 201 or above), measures must be put in place to lessen exposure, accompanied by training on the risks of working without protective gear. If an employer did not comply with these conditions, they could be found liable for their employee’s mental stress and physical injury.
If you are dealing with work-related stress, contact us or call 702-680-1111 today for a free consultation.
As founder of Gina Corena & Associates, she is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the people who suffer life-changing personal injuries in car, truck and motorcycle accidents as well as other types of personal injury. Gina feels fortunate to serve the Nevada community and hold wrongdoers accountable for their harm to her clients.
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