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The employer argued that even if the plaintiff’s evidence were accepted as true, she failed to present a prima claim for relief as a matter of law because mental health conditions caused by workplace stress are excluded from coverage as occupational diseases. (Credit: thodonal/stock.adobe.com) The employer argued that even if the plaintiff’s evidence were accepted as true, she failed to present a prima claim for relief as a matter of law because mental health conditions caused by workplace stress are excluded from coverage as occupational diseases. (Credit: thodonal/stock.adobe.com)

Despite testimony that workplace conditions contributed to “psychological and psychological changes” to the plaintiff’s brain function, the Court of Appeals of Washington has upheld previous rulings in favor of an employer whose employee suffered serious mental stress due to the actions of a co-worker.

Julie Cook-Crist worked as an administrative assistant at a company called Network Communications, Inc. (NCI) from 2007 to 2010. Beginning in 2008, a co-worker, Andrea North, began to routinely scream, use profanity and lash out at Cook-Crist without any provocation. North would frequently engage in aggressive behavior including slamming doors and stomping around the office. Cook-Crist began to dread interactions with North and was in constant fear of the next outburst, likening the relationship to a domestic abuse situation. Cook-Crist attempted to address the situation with North directly but was unsuccessful, so she sought assistance from her supervisor, Terry Fritz. Fritz failed to adequately address the concerns.

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