What to do if Iwas the victim of workplace harassment to the point I had to seek medical attention and then I got fired for it?

UPDATED: Jan 11, 2012

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What to do if Iwas the victim of workplace harassment to the point I had to seek medical attention and then I got fired for it?

I was harassed for filing a formal harassment/discrimination claim via HR to the point that one day I was having chest pains at work. After seeing a doctor, I was given sedatives and told to be away from work for 48 hours until my blood pressure went back to normal. The next morning the owner of the company e-mailed me and told me that he and my boss (the harasser) would be calling me. When they called me they badgered me about work assignments and then fired me stating first because my “stress level is too high”, then adding that I wasn’t “meeting deadlines” but the deadlines were all in the future.

Asked on January 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, there is no legal claim for compensaton for medical conditions caused by a stressful work environment, including harassment by management. People are expected to deal with the stress or seek other employment.

The law does protect people from discrimination on certain specific grounds: federal law makes it illegal to discriminate or harass employees because of race, religion, age over 40, sex, or  disability, and some states  (e.g. NY, NJ, IL, CA) add additional categories, such as no discrimination or harassment due to sexual orientation, family status, or national origin. It is also illegal to retaliate against someone for raising a claim of discrimination against a protected category.

Therefore, if your original harassment/discrimination was based on harassment or discrimination against you because you are a member of a legally protected category, then if you were  harassed and fired in retaliation for that, you may have a legal cause of action. (Note: other than the specifically protected categories, employers may discriminate against or harass you--so you may be harassed because of your political views or hobbies, for example.) If you think this may be the case, you should consult with an employment attorney to discuuss the matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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