Stress is a growing health concern among the adult population, and work-related stress is a common workplace complaint. A growing question faced by workers compensation lawyers in Central New York is, “Can on-the-job stress be claimed under Workers Compensation laws in the State of New York?” The experienced attorneys at Littman & Babiarz know the answer is not as simple as some would expect.
Job Stress in Central New York State
Is job-related stress a problem in Central New York State? Ask anyone on the street and their response will depend on their particular job and how they perceive it. Stress is a mercurial factor, not easily measured or quantified. What causes one person a high level of stress can create negligible stress in another. Therefore, it is not easily quantified.
According to a 2014 survey, the most stressful jobs in Central New York at that time were:
- Enlisted military personnel
- Military general
- Airline pilot
- Event coordinator
- Public relations executive
- Senior corporate executive
- Newspaper reporter
- Police officer
- Taxi driver
Now, according to a February 2017 article on Syracuse.com, the main workplace stress factor in Central New York is not a particular role, but the economic and marketplace situation. Currently, simple manufacturing jobs, some of the lowest stress jobs traditionally available, are declining, while the need for educated workers in manufacturing and healthcare are on the rise.
“To get the best-paying jobs, workers need to have college degrees, training and experience,” said Gretchen Purser, a sociology professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. “Jobs at the bottom of the market are positions that pay the minimum wage or slightly higher while jobs at the top feature higher salaries, but require a higher skilled employee”, she said. This may lead to stress for some who are seeking jobs for which they are not qualified, and must seek additional education.
Workers Compensation Laws in New York State
Under New York State Workers Compensation Law, claims for mental stress are quite difficult to win. Most cases have involved allegations of increased workload or minor disagreements in the workplace, and the courts have been unwilling to grant claims for such issues. These common complaints are viewed as normal problems faced by the majority of workers in the workplace.
Exceptions are rare and seem to center around anxiety or depression that arises from truly reprehensible actions such as sexual harassment or racial discrimination. However, the claimant has the burden of proving a workplace stress-related claim with documented facts and irrevocable medical evidence. These three questions must be clearly answered:
- Has the stress caused permanent impairment?
- Does clear proof exist that the cause of the stress was work related?
- Was the stress over the normal level for the job?
A specific section of the New York Workers Compensation Law actually addresses stress and mental injuries. Section 2(7) states that “… a mental injury is not compensable if it arose from a lawful personnel decision involving a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, demotion, or termination taken in good faith by the employer.”
How Can Workers Compensation Lawyers in Central New York Help Me?
Although winning a claim related to workplace stress is difficult, it is not unheard of, or even rare. Littman and Babiarz are your experienced workers compensation lawyers in Syracuse who can investigate a workplace stress issue and determine if you have a solid basis for making a claim.
Certain reprehensible actions by supervisors or co-workers can contribute to undue workplace stress and therefore qualify for a claim. An example is the Matter of Blasch Precision Ceramics, Inc., 2013 NY Wrk. Comp. 0450719 (2013), a company based in Albany, NY. The dispute in question between the claimant and co-workers was deemed extraordinary and was not properly addressed by the employer. Therefore, the claimant was successful in pursuing a workers compensation claim for anxiety, stress, and resulting depression.
When you need reliable, compassionate workers compensation attorneys in Syracuse, New York, turn to Littman and Babiarz. If you believe you have a stress-related workplace injury claim, we can investigate your situation and advise you how to proceed. Call us right away at 607-277-7527 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. At Littman and Babiarz, our workers compensation lawyers are proudly serving Auburn, Syracuse, Ithaca, Elmira and all of Central NY.