Court Discusses Limitations Imposed by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) offers protection to employees in that it allows them to recover workers’ compensation benefits for harm sustained in the workplace. In exchange for the right to receive such benefits, however, the Act precludes employees from pursuing personal injury claims against their employers. Notably, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, this limits employees from seeking damages from their employers not only for bodily harm but also for emotional harm. If you sustained injuries at work, you could be owed benefits, and it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer regarding your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff, a former instructor at a public high school, filed a lawsuit against the city where the school was located on multiple grounds. She asserted, among other things, that she was subject to verbal abuse from her supervisors, which caused her to suffer stress-induced illnesses. As such, the plaintiff’s complaint included a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Following discovery, the city moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. The court granted the city’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed,

Limitations Imposed by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims. As to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, the court noted that the plaintiff alleged that the conduct in question occurred while the actors were in the scope of their employment when they were supervising the plaintiff.

The appellate court explained that the Act provides that an employee waives their right to pursue a common law cause of action for injuries that are compensable under the Act or to recover damages for personal injuries. Compensable injuries under the Act include harm arising out of and during the course of employment. Further, emotional distress caused by employment conditions is deemed a personal injury under the Act.

Here, the plaintiff’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress arose out of behavior her supervisors engaged in while they were working. The court explained that as the city was a public employer, it was afforded protection from civil lawsuits under the Act, and therefore, the plaintiff’s claims were barred. As such, the appellate court found that the trial court properly dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Meet with a Skillful Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

While people hurt at work typically cannot recover damages from their employer in a civil lawsuit, they are often able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. If you suffered harm in the workplace, you have the right to seek benefits from your employer, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a skillful workers’ compensation lawyer who can aid you in seeking any benefits recoverable, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach him through the form online or by calling 508-822-6600 to set up a meeting.