In Massachusetts personal injury cases, seeking damages for lost wages is often necessary to make an injured party whole. Much time is often needed to recover from a serious injury, and an injured person may not have access to funds during this period. Workers’ compensation provides money to cover lost wages during the recovery period, but disputes can still occur over the appropriate amount to be paid. Having experienced counsel at your side, whether it is a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury litigation, can help maximize the lost wage damages you deserve.
The Appeals Court recently assessed an award of lost wages in a Massachusetts labor action before the Employment Relations Board. The plaintiff had been laid off by a local highway department. The plaintiff sought assistance from his union with the lay off, but they failed to file a grievance for him. A hearing was held with the Dept. of Labor Relations over this failure, and the hearing officer found the union to have violated G. L. c. 150E, § 10(b)(1). This was affirmed by the board, which then ordered the union to pay for the loss of compensation he suffered as a result of its failure to process his grievance about the timing of his layoff. The Board specifically directed the union to pay him 34 days’ worth of lost wages plus interest, as specified in G. L. c. 231, § 6I. The board did not agree with the plaintiff’s request for reinstatement and full back pay, since no one would have known the outcome of the hearing had the union assisted in avoiding the lay off. This was particularly true because the town had voted to reduce the highway department’s budget.
Massachusetts G. L. c. 30A, § 14(7) directs the Appeals Court to be very deferential to the decision of the administrative agency, giving weight to the experience, competence, and technical and specialized knowledge of the agency. The appellate court must affirm the decision unless there was a violation of a constitutional provision, an excess of statutory authority or jurisdiction, an error of law, an unlawful procedure, a finding unsupported by substantial evidence, unwarranted findings of fact, or an abuse of discretion. With this level of deference, it is difficult for the appealing party to show the interpretation and application of the law was not rational.