(CN) – A New York woman is not liable to three former employees for emotional distress despite their allegations of outrageous conduct, a New York appeals court ruled.
Carol Ann Epifani claimed that Sale Johnson hired her as a personal assistant, but asked her to do strenuous cleaning tasks such as scrubbing the basement.
Epifani’s successor, Kelly Supple, said she also had to clean the basement, steam carpets and stand on ladders to change drapes and light bulbs.
Laundress Agnetta Oliverre said she was forced to all housecleaning chores – not just laundry – and that Johnson forced her to stand at all times.
The plaintiffs claimed Johnson forced them to work unpaid overtime and to take work home with them.
Supple also accused Johnson of defamation, claiming that Johnson told her staff that Supple had been fired for stealing. Supple also said Johnson phoned people on a list of business contacts, which another employee allegedly took from Supple’s purse while Johnson distracted her, and told them Supple was crazy.
Judge Dickerson of the Brooklyn-based appellate court ruled that the trial court should have barred the plaintiff’s fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation claims due to New York’s at-will employment rule.
Dickerson also dismissed the plaintiff’s claims of emotional distress based on the allegations that Johnson forced them to step over dog urine to use the toilet in the laundry room; prohibited them from speaking to each other; prohibited them from speaking on the phone to anyone, even their own children; and called Oliverre at 10 p.m. and asked her to come into work and lock her 2-year-old daughter in a dog cage while she walked Johnson’s dogs.
Oliverre says she refused.
“While Johnson’s alleged conduct was unquestionably objectionable, accepting the allegations as true, they do not allege conduct so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to state a cause of action to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress,” the court ruled.