People who sustain injuries in the workplace may be eligible to recover benefits under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). In exchange for the right to such benefits, the Act bars injured employees from pursuing personal injury claims against their employers for harm caused by injuries that arise out of employment. While in some cases, it is clear that a claim is precluded by the exclusivity provisions of the Act, in others, it may not be evident whether the harm in question constitutes a personal injury. This was demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a Massachusetts case, in which the court discussed whether the Act barred an employee from seeking damages for emotional distress caused by workplace conditions. If you suffered injuries at work, it is advisable to speak to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine what benefits you may be owed.
The Plaintiff’s Allegations
It is reported that the plaintiff worked for the defendant at a power plant. His managers began to harass him, causing him to suffer panic attacks, anxiety, and stress. He sought medical leave, but his request was denied. He was subsequently terminated. He then filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant, asserting numerous claims, including intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant responded by filing a motion to dismiss.
The Exclusivity Provision of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act
The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was both untimely and was barred by the Act’s exclusivity provision. The plaintiff did not submit a response to the defendant’s workers’ compensation allegations but argued that his claims were timely due to a complaint he filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
The court ultimately agreed with the defendant and dismissed the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The court explained that common law tort actions are precluded by the exclusivity provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act where the plaintiff is an employee of the defendant, his condition is shown to be a personal injury within the meaning of the Act, and the evidence demonstrates that the injury arose out of and in the course of the plaintiff’s employment with the defendant.
In the subject case, the court found that the defendant proved that all three conditions set forth by the exclusivity provision of the Act were satisfied. Specifically, the plaintiff asserted that the defendant employed him, and emotional distress was a compensable injury as defined by the Act. Further, the plaintiff clearly alleged his distress was caused by his workplace conditions. Thus, the court dismissed his claims.
Confer with a Skilled Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Numerous types of harm are compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, including emotional distress caused by workplace conditions. If you sustained an injury or illness in the workplace, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney about what benefits you may be owed. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer who can assist you in pursuing any benefits available, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Meehan via the form online or by calling him at 508-822-6600 to set up a meeting.