New York: Nurse’s Stress Claim Tied to Bona Fide Personnel Decision is Not Compensable

Where a registered nurse claimed that she sustained work-related injuries consisting of insomnia, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and severe social phobia when she was wrongfully terminated, reinstated, and then subjected to, among other things, harassment from her colleagues and supervisors, the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board did not commit error when it denied her claim on the basis that any stress-related mental injuries stemmed from her involvement in a disciplinary proceeding taken in good faith by her employer [see Matter of Novak v St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hosp., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2437 (3rd Dept. Mar. 30, 2017)].

The appellate court noted the significant deference it gave to the Board’s resolution of witness credibility issues, indicated the nurse began receiving medical treatment for her psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety and insomnia, more than six months before the incident that led to her suspension. Whether the nurse’s actions constituted a lawful personnel decision undertaken in good faith was a factual issue to be resolved by the Board and the appellate court would not disturb the Board’s decision where, as here, it was supported by substantial evidence.

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