Employee’s Emotional Distress Claim Allowed to Move Forward Under Personal Animus Exception to Exclusivity.


Jackson filed an amended complaint against her employer, alleging, inter alia, claims of race discrimination/disparate treatment, unlawful retaliation, and termination under Title VII; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The employer filed a partial motion to dismiss the Complaint. In relevant part, the employer contended that the exclusivity provisions of the Workers' Compensation statutory scheme barred Jackson 's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The federal district court observed that Pennsylvania recognizes a limited exception to the exclusivity rule known as the "personal animus" or "third party attack" exception, that under that exception claims caused by the intentional conduct of third parties for reasons personal to the tortfeasor and not directed against him as an employee or because of his employment are allowed. The critical inquiry is whether the attack was motivated by personal reasons, as opposed to generalized contempt or hatred, and was sufficiently unrelated to the work situation so as not to arise out of the employment relationship. In short, the court indicated the plaintiff must demonstrate that an individual other than the employer acted in a tortious manner unrelated to the plaintiff's status as employee. Applying the rule to the instant case, the court determined that Jackson had alleged sufficient facts to move forward. She had alleged a physical attack by and a verbal exchange with a co-employee. Dismissal would not be appropriate.

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Reference Info:Legal Memoranda: Motion Addressed to Pleadings | Federal, 3rd Circuit, Pennsylvania | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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