Court Examines the Exclusivity Provisions of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

While the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) allows people to recover benefits if they are harmed at work, it requires them to waive the ability to pursue personal injury claims against their employers in exchange for such rights. Instead, the exclusivity provision of the Act provides that the Act is the sole remedy for injuries sustained at work. The exclusivity provision is strictly construed and applies not only to bodily harm but also to emotional injuries as well, as evidenced in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were harmed by your employer’s acts, it is in your best interest to talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your rights as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a police officer at a Massachusetts university from December 2014 through March 2015, when he was fired for alleged misconduct. After he was let go, he filed an action against the university and his former supervisor, asserting various claims related to his termination. The defendants then moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. Among other things, they argued that his intentional interference with a contract, tortious interference with a contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act. The plaintiff opposed the defendant’s motion.

Exclusivity Provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act

The court ultimately granted the defendant’s motion in part and denied it in part. The court explained that the exclusivity provisions of the Act state, in part, that employees are deemed to have waived their rights to pursue common law claims against their employers to recover damages for personal injuries.

Thus, the key to whether the Act bars a common law claim depends on the nature of the injury for which the plaintiff wishes to recover compensation rather than the nature of the employer’s acts. In the subject case, as the plaintiff sought contractual damages in his tortious and intentional interference with a contract claims rather than compensation for personal injuries, those claims were not barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Act. As for her claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, however, the court found that the Act was the sole remedy for damages. Thus, it granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim but denied it as to the contractual claims.

Talk to a Dedicated Massachusetts Attorney

While people who suffer injuries due to their work environments can often recover workers’ compensation benefits, they are typically precluded from pursuing compensation from their employers in civil lawsuits. If you sustained injuries at work, it is wise to talk to an attorney about your potential claims. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer who can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under your case. You can reach Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or via the form online to set up a consultation.