Worker Allowed To Bring Claim Against Employer For Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

The plaintiff was a plumber employed by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority who was arrested for alleged theft of gasoline. The Housing Authority had conducted an investigation into the improper use of gasoline credit cards and had concluded that thirteen employees were guilty of improperly using the cards. The Housing Authority called a meeting of its 200 employees and after the employees had all gathered, the suspected employees were arrested, handcuffed, and led away by police as an example to the other employees.

Charges against the plaintiff were later dismissed. He was re-instated in his job after an arbitrator found that there was no evidence that he had stolen gasoline.

The plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the Housing Authority claiming negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, and negligent misidentification. The Housing Authority filed a motion to be dismissed claiming that it was immune as a political subdivision. The trial court dismissed the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, but ruled that the other claims could proceed to trial. The court of appeals affirmed the decision.

The Housing Authority was a political subdivision entitled to many immunities. However, the immunity statute specifically states that it does not apply to any claims arising out of the employment relationship. R.C. 2744.09(B). The court concluded that these charges and the incident staged in front of all of the co-employees arose out of the employment relationship and the claims were not barred by any immunity.

The entire case can be found at this link.