Good news for employers fighting claims of mental harm: Courts have begun ordering mental exams when employees claim that a specific mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was caused by harassment or bias. That may discourage claims.
Recent case: Angela Walton alleged that her supervisor had sexually harassed her, resulting in depression and PTSD. Her lawyers resisted efforts by her employer to conduct a psychiatric examination.
The court ordered one, reasoning that Walton’s claims went beyond the garden-variety emotional distress many employees suffer.
It reasoned that because Walton had a specific diagnosis, the jury might need assistance understanding her alleged condition. Had she claimed general emotional upset, the jury could simply apply its common sense. (Walton v. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, No. 5:09-CV-302, ED NC, 2011)