The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently affirmed a decision of the Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board, In re Wicklow’s Case, 32 N.E.3d 369 (2015), which found that an employer’s acts caused the exacerbation of an employee’s pre-existing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As such, the employee was awarded workers’ compensation benefits under § 34 for temporary total incapacity.
The employee had a tragic history. Due to a traumatic personal background and family life, she suffered from PTSD and was diagnosed in the late 1990s. She started working as a dialysis nurse for her employer in 2000. Although the employee had been hospitalized in the past when her PSTD was triggered on other previous, non-work-related occasions, by 2005 her condition was stable.
A new supervisor was appointed in 2006, and the employee became distressed after several triggering workplace incidents occurred involving her new supervisor. In May 2009, the employee received a three-day disciplinary suspension, and she took six weeks of medical leave. She then filed for § 34 benefits, alleging that she sustained work-related emotional injuries as the result of at least 10 encounters with her supervisor, beginning in 2006 through May 2009.