Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Work-related stress

Work-related stress
Mattoon v Workers' Compensation Board, 284 A.D.2d 667

An employee is the target of some personnel change or action involving his or her position or assignment. The employee, claiming that the personnel action was “stressful,” quits and then files for unemployment insurance benefits. This was the situation underlying the appeal filed by Lori B. Mattoon.

Mattoon was employed by the New York State Department of Labor as an agency services representative. Her work assignment was changed by her new supervisor. In December 1993, Mattoon left her employment “due to work-related stress that resulted in depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.” The Labor Department conceded that “the event ultimately triggering [Mattoon's] psychic injury was a new manager's reassignment of [Mattoon] to a particularly stressful work position.”

The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, however, denied Mattoon's claim for workers' compensation benefits. The Board determined that Mattoon's inability to deal with her new assignment was a direct consequence of lawful personnel decisions, which were taken in good faith by the employer. Mattoon appealed, arguing that the Board's determination that she did not suffer a compensable psychic injury is not supported by substantial evidence.

The Third Department rejected Mattoon's appeal. It said that it was well established that a psychic injury based upon work-related stress is not compensable if it is “a direct consequence of a lawful personnel decision involving a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, demotion, or termination taken in good faith by the employer.”

The decision comments that a “change of work duties” did not constitute a job transfer” within the meaning of Workers' Compensation Law Section 2.7.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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