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Does workers’ compensation cover workplace stress or burnout?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

The years 2020 and 2021 will go down in history as two of the most mentally and physically exhausting years Americans have ever experienced.

Despite the uncertainty shrouding these years, many Torrance, California, residents dutifully showed up for work every day. Stress and burnout, especially for those in the healthcare industry, became an unfortunate fact of life for most workers.  

When can employees get workers’ comp for burnout or stress?

Workers’ compensation covers several psychiatric conditions, but is stress one of them? California labor and workers’ compensation laws do not specifically address workplace burnout and stress. However, if your psychiatric injury meets the requirements below, compensation could be an option.

  • You have six months or more of work history (contiguous or noncontiguous) with the employer.
  • Your psychiatric condition appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
  • You can show that the predominant cause of your condition occurred due to your employment or work-related factors (stress, anxiety, etc.).
  • Your condition did not arise due to litigation or workplace discrimination.

Here is the tricky part: General stress does not appear in the DSM. However, it might be a legitimate symptom of a psychiatric problem (depression, generalized anxiety disorder, etc.) that does appear in the manual. If you can prove that your stress is symptomatic of a different psychiatric injury, you may qualify for workers’ compensation.

Under certain conditions, you might still qualify for compensation even if you no longer work for the employer. For example, if your psychiatric injury occurred due to “sudden and extraordinary events of employment” and you have met the reporting and other requirements, you may file successfully. In these cases, it is helpful to acquire legal guidance with your claim.

Learning more about workers’ compensation claims in California can also help you assert your rights.