Massachusetts Court Discusses Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Mental Harm

Typically, Massachusetts employees who suffer harm due to workplace conditions have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Harm includes not only physical injuries but also mental distress and trauma. There are some exceptions to the rule that psychological injuries are compensable, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts Ruling.  If you sustained psychological injuries due to your workplace conditions, you might be owed benefits, and you should speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about options.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is alleged that the claimant worked for the employer as a researcher in a laboratory that developed drugs. At some point, it became evident that the claimant was using a different protocol than he had been ordered to use. He admitted that he was using his own protocol because he disagreed with the methodology of his supervisor. He was subsequently terminated.

Reportedly, the claimant began seeking psychiatric care following his termination and sought workers’ compensation benefits for the psychological harm he sustained as a result of his work environment and subsequent termination. After a two-day hearing, an administrative judge determined that the employer’s actions were bona fide personnel actions, and therefore, any injuries he psychological harm he suffered was not compensable. The reviewing board affirmed the decision, and the claimant appealed.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Psychological Harm

The Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the administrative judge’s ruling. The court explained that pursuant to Massachusetts law, no emotional or mental injury that is principally caused by a bona fide personnel action, including termination, will be deemed a personal injury, except for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court further explained that a personnel action would be deemed to have been undertaken in good faith if it arose out of an honest belief or the absence of malice or intent to defraud.

In the subject case, the court found that the actions taken by the employer, including the claimant’s termination, were bona fide personnel actions. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts found that the administrative judge properly credited the testimony of the claimant’s supervisor, in which she stated that she directed the claimant to abide by the proper protocol on numerous occasions, but he declined to do so.

The court also declined to adopt the claimant’s argument that the underlying proceeding was a sham because the administrative judge was biased against him. The court found that there was simply no evidence of records that would support this argument. Based on the foregoing, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the ruling of the reviewing board.

Meet with an Assertive Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

People who suffer injuries in the workplace are often owed workers’ compensation benefits, and it is smart for anyone who sustains mental or physical harm at work to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an assertive workers’ compensation lawyer, and if you were injured at work, he could aid you in seeking any benefits you may be owed. You can contact him by calling 508-822-6600 or using the online form to set up a conference.