Emotional Distress Claims in Sexual Harassment Cases

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Victims of sexual harassment often add a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress to their complaints.

To support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct was so outrageous that it exceeded all bounds that are usually tolerated in a civilized community.  Severe emotional distress means emotional distress of such substantial quality or enduring quality that no reasonable person in a civilized society should be expected to endure it.

These high standards for proving severe emotional distress were reiterated by the California Court of Appeals in a case out of Orange County called Haberman v. Cengage Learning (2009) 180 Cal.App. 4th 365, which in turn relied on a 2009 case from the California Supreme Court, Hughes v. Pair (2009) 46 Cal. 4th 1035.

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