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Yelling at Employee NOT Good Faith Personnel Action

Happy Friday, dear readers!

You know what? No one likes to get yelled at.  So, it comes as no surprise that you can only stretch the “good-faith personnel action” of Labor Code Section 3208.3(h) so far before you come into the compensable psyche claim territory.

Submitted, for the consideration of this humble blogger’s beloved readers, the case of Mahmouid v. Quest Diagnostic, a case recently denied review by the Court of Appeal.

Applicant worked for Quest for about 14 years as a laboratory scientist, but claimed to have sustained a CT to her heart, psyche, and sleep through June of 2013.  On a day in June, 2013, applicant got mixed signals – a lead laboratory tech told her to work at one station, and another lead tech told her to work at another.  When the general supervisor arrived later that day, he approached applicant and loudly told her that she should have followed the directions of the first lead, and threatened to “kick her out” for arguing with him.

Applicant then went to the HR department and complained that she wasn’t feeling well because of the general supervisor’s actions.

Obviously this claim is fake, right?  Yeah, not so much.

The folks at HR called for an ambulance and applicant was taken to the hospital and admitted for a heart attack!  Both the psyche QME and the internal medicine QME found applicant’s resulting heart attack, psyche claim, and depression to be industrially caused.

Defendant argued that the lab supervisors conversation with the applicant was a good-faith personnel action, in that applicant was directed to follow the instructions of a particular lead technician, and the threat in the conversation, namely the threat of termination of employment, was an appropriate disciplinary measure.

The WCJ found the testimony of the injured worker more credible, and reasoned that the raised tone and confrontational nature of the conversation crossed the line from good-faith corrective action on the part of a supervisor, into a “verbal attack.”

Now, as much as your humble blogger loves hanging out in laboratories (say it with me now: La-Bore-ah-Torries!) I wasn’t there when all of this supposedly happened.  So I can’t really tell you whether the applicant is an incredibly convincing but insidiously dishonest person, or whether the supervisor really did fly off the handle like I did the last time my computer asked me to upgrade to Windows 10 in the middle of a deposition…

But perhaps this is a good reminder of us all… we should strive, especially in the work place, to keep calm and professional tones.

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