Psychological "Junk Science"
The testimony of psychiatric or psychological experts on emotional distress damages issues has become a prominent part of many employment lawsuits in recent years. Although expert testimony in not required to cover emotional distress damages, these claims are often buttressed by the testimony of a psychiatrist, phychologist, or other mental health professional concerning the nature and extent of the plaintiff's psychological injuries. Mental and emotional injury is a difficult phenomenon to detect and measure with precision, though, and some "expert" opinions in this area amount to little more than unsubstantiated conjecture, or "junk science." See Huber, Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom (1991). Recent developments in the law of evidence, however, should help prevent the introduction of junk science in support of emotional damages claims in employment litigation. This article covers the use of forensic experts, particularly with respect to claimed psychological injuries, in employment litigation.
This article appeared in the October 2001 issue of For the Defense.