In general, yes. First, the Act does cover physical injuries that result in a mental based incapacity as well as a trauma that is mental in nature but presents as a physical incapacity. The more challenging cases arise where the injury involves no physical harm and the resulting incapacity is due to a mental or emotional disability. In those cases it must be shown that the “predominate contributing cause” of the disability was “an event or series of events occurring with any employment.”
Can personnel decisions, like demotions or firing, which result in emotional injuries be covered under the Act?
It depends. The Act protects employers who make a “bona fide” or good faith personnel decision that results in emotional injury as long as the decision was not intended to inflict emotional harm. In addition to protecting employers from workers compensation claims, employees are also barred from bringing a civil law suit based on a bona fide personnel action. However, if the decision was not made in good faith, then the employee can receive compensation for his or her injury.
* This is the fourth of an eight part series on the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act. Read part 3 here.
Photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ under Creative Commons license