Massachusetts Court Discusses Proving a Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claim

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) grants employees the right to seek benefits if they are hurt at work and protects them from retaliation for asserting that right. As such, employers that attempt to retaliate against employees for seeking workers’ compensation benefits may face civil consequences. Employees asserting retaliation claims must demonstrate that their employers took adverse action against them due to the fact that they sought workers’ compensation benefits and not for some other reason; if they cannot meet this burden, their claims could be dismissed, as shown in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you suffered injuries at work, it is important to understand your rights, and it is wise to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a postal employee. He suffered harm in an accident that occurred in 2010 and filed a workers’ compensation claim, asserting that his injuries were work-related. He was terminated a few days after he filed his claim, and his claim was ultimately denied. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, arguing, among other things, that he was terminated in retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss his lawsuit on the grounds that he failed to set forth sufficient facts to demonstrate cause for relief. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff appealed.

Proving a Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claim

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court explained that the plaintiff’s allegations that the defendant refused to process his workers’ compensation papers in retaliation for exercising a protected right lacked merit for two reasons.

First, because of the timeline of when the two events allegedly occurred, he failed to show a temporal connection between the two events as required to demonstrate retaliation. Secondly, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs had, in fact, reviewed and denied his claim, meaning that any alleged retaliation did not cause him material harm. As such, the court found that the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s retaliation claim was appropriate. The court went on to explain that the plaintiff’s other three claims were properly dismissed as well, based on the reasoning set forth by the trial court.

Meet with an Experienced Massachusetts Attorney

Many employers, unfortunately, are reluctant to pay injured employees the workers’ compensation benefits they are owed, and in some instances, will go so far as to retaliate against them for filing claims for benefits. If you were hurt on the job, you may be owed benefits, and you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who can assess the facts of your case and help you to seek the full benefits recoverable under the law. You can contact Mr. Meehan via the form online or by calling him at 508-822-6600 to set up a meeting.