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In Louisiana, an employee wishing to recover damages for an intentional tort of the intentional infliction of emotional distress for an on-the-job injury must prove that the defendant actively desired to bring about the mental anguish or realized to a virtual certainty that it would occur and that the defendant's conduct was outrageous.
Appellee former employee alleged that the supervisor used abusive language toward other workers in her presence and that she suffered mental anguish. Appellee brought an action in tort for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The employer contended that because her injury, if any, was an on-the-job injury, her only recovery would be under the workers' compensation law. The trial court rendered judgment for the appellee. Appellants, the employer and its supervisor, sought review of the judgment.
Under the circumstances, could the employee recover damages for the alleged infliction of emotional distress for an on-the-job injury?
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the employee had proved that the supervisor had actively desired to bring about her mental anguish. The court found that, under the factual circumstances, the supervisor’s conduct was outrageous. According to the court, the employee was, in effect, a captive audience to his profanity and threats - she could not retaliate in kind to her supervisor and may not have been able to walk away without jeopardizing her employment.