Workplace Bullying and Workers’ Compensation

LibrarianThis very interesting article from the Boston Globe details situations that may be difficult to confront in a work environment. The Globe story discusses the fate of Carol Anne Geray, a librarian from Shrewsbury, who loved her work until she found herself the victim of bullying. She stated that other staffers verbally abused and excluded her, discussed her with library patrons in a negative manner, and made offensive remarks regarding gay issues because of their knowledge that she had a gay son. She claimed that all these problems led to her hospitalization with high blood pressure and other health issues.

When Ms. Geary took leave from work on her doctor’s orders, she had to face a storm of questions concerning why she was unable to work from home. She stated could not work from home because of the effects that the work-related stress took on her. She then mentioned an important issue: the fact that there is still a lack of understanding toward mental health issues. Ms. Geary stated that her company fought her efforts to claim workers’ compensation and then fired her when she was too ill to return to the office. She accurately states the difficulty with workers’ compensation in that it is easy to prove that a person injured their leg because of a work accident; however, it is much more difficult for people to understand that a person became sick and could no longer work due to issues regarding bullying. Ms. Geary’s situation is indicative of a growing trend in which people must deal with the workplace effects of bullying. The article mentions that nearly 1 in 4 workers have confronted abusive conduct while working, 21 percent have witnessed bullying, and about 75 percent of people declared that they were aware that workplace bullying occurs.

The Dispute Procedure in Massachusetts

The article is important for many reasons, but particularly because it mentions that matters regarding workers’ compensation sometimes leads to conflict between the employee and the employer. The state of Massachusetts provides a list of steps that one must utilize within the Department of Industrial Accidents when there is a dispute regarding injured workers. The first step is a conciliation session. It is an informal meeting between the worker and the insurer for the company. The next step is a conference. This step is also informal but the matter comes before an administrative judge. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, then the judge must issue a temporary order concerning whether the insurer must pay compensation.  If the parties are not satisfied with the judge’s ruling, they have 14 days to appeal. The third step is the first formal process in which there is a hearing. This step involves witnesses and testimony. The final step comes if either party wants to appeal the decision made at the hearing. It goes before the review board where three administrative judges will examine the transcripts at the hearing. It is in your interest to contact an attorney to help you through this process.

Let Us Help You Today

If you are in the state of Massachusetts and have concerns regarding workers’ compensation, you should contact the Sheehan Law Firm. We are here to walk you through each step of the process.

Photo Credit: Celeste via Compfight cc