This case provides a reminder that if something at work worsens an employee’s pre-existing condition, the employer may be on the hook to provide workers’ comp benefits. This includes all sorts of injuries, including mental ones.
Arthur Mosley, an employee of a Hannaford Brothers Co. supermarket in New York, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While working as an assistant store manager for Hannaford, Mosley called a co-worker at her home to discuss a work-related matter.
This made the co-worker’s husband think his wife and Mosley were having an affair. He threatened and harassed Mosley, culminating in an unsuccessful murder-for-hire plot against him.
The husband also contacted Hannaford about the alleged affair, which triggered an internal investigation by the company.
Mosley asked for a transfer to another store. Eventually his pre-existing PTSD worsened to the point he was no longer able to work. He filed for workers’ comp benefits. Hannaford opposed the claim on the basis the injury wasn’t causally related to Mosley’s employment.
A workers’ comp judge determined the injury was work-related. That decision was upheld on appeal by the full Workers’ Compensation Board.
Hannaford took the case to a New York appeals court.
Was there another cause?
The court said this case came down to whether the injury “originated in work-related differences or purely from personal animosity.”
In this case, the work-related phone call from Mosley to his co-worker was the basis for the subsequent harassment, Hannaford’s internal investigation and Mosley’s request for a transfer. And all of that exacerbated Mosley’s pre-existing PTSD.
Nothing in the record revealed another cause for the situation involving Mosley and his co-worker’s husband.
For that reason, the court ruled the Workers’ Compensation Board ruled correctly that Mosley was eligible for workers’ comp benefits for the worsening of his pre-existing PTSD due to a work-related issue.
What do you think about the court’s decision? Let us know in the comments.
(Mosley v. Hannaford Brothers Co., Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department, No. 517175, 7/3/14)