Massachusetts Court Discusses Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claims

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ compensation Act (the Act), employees that sustain work related harm have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employers who have to pay such benefits to retaliate against their injured employees by terminating them or changing the terms of their employment. Such retaliatory tactics are prohibited under the Act, employees retaliated against can pursue claims against their employers. They must do so within the time proscribed by the statute of limitations, however, otherwise, their claims may be waived, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were hurt at work, you could be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that in 2009, the plaintiff suffered unspecified injuries at work, after which he filed a workers’ compensation claim. His claim was denied. He subsequently alleged was retaliated against for seeking workers’ compensation benefits and litigated his claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. He then filed a complaint in 2015 in which he alleged, among other things, that the defendant retaliated against him for seeking workers’ compensation benefits by refusing to promote him. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the retaliation claim on the grounds that it was barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Retaliation Claims Under the Act

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court noted that pursuant to the Act, any claim alleging that an employer unlawfully retaliated against an employee for seeking workers’ compensation benefits must be filed within three years. The court explained that the limitations period begins to run on the date of the allegedly discriminatory act.

In other words, if the plaintiff alleged the denial of a promotion constitutes retaliation, the statute of limitations would begin to run on the date of the denial. In the subject case, the court noted that the plaintiff previously claimed he was retaliated against for seeking workers’ compensation benefits in 2009; thus, the statute of limitations for his retaliation claim began to run at that time. The court noted that to the extent the plaintiff alleged he was the subject of retaliatory acts between 2012 and 2015, he did not offer any evidence in support of such claims. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Trusted Massachusetts Attorney

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act not only allows people hurt at work to recover benefits, but it also protects them from retaliation for exercising such rights. If you were injured at work, it is wise to talk to a lawyer about what benefits you may be owed. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to pursue the maximum benefits available. You can contact Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or via the form online to set up a meeting.