While many Massachusetts employers provide their employees with a safe and respectful work environment, some do not. Fortunately, the law provides avenues through which people who suffer harm or injustices at work can seek justice. The laws regarding the process of seeking damages and benefits are strict, however. For example, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act (the Act) largely prohibits employees from seeking damages from their employers in civil lawsuits for personal injuries. Notably, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, this includes claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress. If you suffered losses at work, it is advisable to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your options for seeking justice.
The Plaintiff’s Allegations
It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, her employer, in which she asserted numerous employment discrimination claims. She also asserted state law claims, including a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant moved for summary judgment asserting, among other things, that the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Act.
Emotional Distress Claims in the Context of the Workers’ Compensation Framework
The court ultimately agreed with the defendant with regard to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The court explained that the Act is the sole remedy for common law personal injury claims that arise out of employment. Specifically, it provides that an employee shall be deemed to have waived their right to pursue personal injury claims for damages that arise under the common law or under any other law with respect to an injury that is compensable under the Act.
There is an exception to the exclusivity provision in cases in which the plaintiff provided their employer with written notice that they claimed the right to pursue personal injury claims when they were hired. The court explained that compensable harm includes personal injuries arising out of and in the course of employment. This would include emotional distress claims, even if they arose out of the employer’s willful conduct.
Based on the foregoing, the court agreed with the defendant’s argument that the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claims were barred by the Act. While the plaintiff argued to the contrary, the court noted that the case she relied on differed, as the harm in question did not arise in the course of employment. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.
Meet with an Experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Generally speaking, people have the right to recover compensation for harm sustained at work, but if the injury is physical in nature, they typically must do so within the context of a workers’ compensation claim. If you suffered injuries on the job, it is critical to speak to an attorney who can advise you of your rights. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer dedicated to helping injured workers protect their rights, and if you hire him, he will fight zealously on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or by using the form online to set up a meeting.