July 2021 New York  Workers’

Compensation Law Reporter Highlights

WCA doesn’t cover altercation with a co-worker over text message

Case Name:  Mold A Matic, 121 NYWCLR 78 (N.Y. W.C.B., Full Board 2021).

Ruling: In denying benefits, a Board panel held that an altercation between the claimant and a coworker was over personal animosity and was not compensable.

What it means:  An altercation with a coworker over a text message to the coworker from a third party is purely personal and not compensable under the WCA, even where, as here, there is a reference during the altercation about the coworker spreading rumors about the claimant skipping work. Because the altercation arose over personal animosity, it is not work-related.

Absence of evidence of prejudice nixes doctrine of laches

Case Name:  Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y., NYWCLR 73 (N.Y. W.C.B., Panel 2021).

Ruling: A Board panel found the claimant, who slipped and fell as he got out of his vehicle at the job site, established his claim for a work-related accident.

What it means:  Where a claim is filed less than two months after the accident, the investigation began before the claim was filed, the reports of the investigation were readily available throughout the pendency of the claim, the employer was able to produce witnesses who had personal knowledge of the investigation, and it was able to cross-examine the doctor who treated the claimant’s pre-existing condition, the employer has failed to demonstrate any prejudice. Accordingly, the doctrine of laches does not apply.

Lack of evidence of prejudice saves Home Depot employee’s claim

Case Name: Home Depot USA Inc., 121 NYWCLR 75 (N.Y. W.C.B., Panel 2021).

Ruling:  Upon review, a Board panel rescinded the WCLJ’s decision, which disallowed the claim based on a finding that the employer was prejudiced by the claimant’s failure to provide timely notice of injury. The matter was restored to the calendar for further development of the record.

What it means:  Where the employer is still able to conduct an investigation and review security video of the claimant’s alleged work accident, and the claimant’s manager is still with the employer and her notes and records are also available, sufficient evidence supports a finding that the employer has not been prejudiced by the claimant’s failure to provide timely notice of injury.

Claimant proves compensable metal injury due to supervisory harassment

Case Name: Rite Aid Corp., 121 NYWCLR 83 (N.Y. W.C.B., Panel 2021).

Ruling:  On remand from the Appellate Division and referral from the Full Board, a board panel held that the claimant sustained a compensable mental injury in the form of a major depressive disorder due to supervisory harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

What it means:  A claimant being subjected to insensitive and derogatory comments regarding his race and religion constitutes stress greater than that which other similarly situated workers experience in the normal work environment.