DID STRICT WORK RULES CAUSE A PSYCHIATRIC INJURY AT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH? INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS, #4

A Disney Worker reportedly is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and developed an eating disorder as a result of working at Disneyland.  She attributes it to stress from strict work rules.  -Dailymail.com.

One of the strict rules was that some “performers” were required to solely speak in English.

Despite the requirements, this Disney Worker reportedly broke the rules and spoke foreign languages to customers.  ‘If I had been caught, that is a big reprimand and potentially getting fired, ‘it was reported.   She stated that ‘I fully know what I did was against the rules, and it has to do with character integrity,’ she said. ‘I got to a point where I thought the benefit to the guest was greater than the risk.’  She noted that ‘In Disneyland Paris, they are encouraged to speak multiple languages, and they don’t get in trouble for it there,’ she shared. ‘I take an issue with that. If you’re gonna have a rule, it needs to be across all parks.’ -Dailymail.com

It was reported that she “lost her status as a part-time seasonal employee because she failed to clock in enough hours in character after she welcomed her first child.” Dailymail.com

Since the Disney Employee is reportedly suffering medical problems as a result of her employment, the question, based upon the facts alleged, is whether this would be considered as a valid workers’ compensation claim.

Can a Worker File A Stress Injury Over “Work Rules”?

Yes. In California, Workers can file a Workers’ Compensation Psyche Injury Claim with respect to stress caused by work rules.  With respect to Psychiatric Injuries, there are some requirements, however.  There is the requirement of six months of employment with the employer. There is the requirement that the Psychiatric Injury be the result of actual events of employment.  There is the requirement that the predominant cause of Psychiatric Injury is work-related. There is the requirement that a substantial cause, 35-40 percent, cannot be a result of good faith non-discriminatory personal actions.

One major issue is whether or not the Disney “work rules” constitute a “good faith” personnel action.

Additionally, there is the question as to what percentage of the rules contributed to causing the injury.

Are Stressful “Work Rules” a Valid Basis for a Claim?

Possibly.  The issue is whether particular  “work rules” are legal to be viewed as good faith personnel actions. The legal determination is made by a Judge and the case law on the issue.

An “English only” speaking rule in the workplace may be challenged as being a “good faith” action. It is possible that it could violate some state law or otherwise be considered discriminatory. With the present fact pattern, since the rule applied to performers, there may be a valid reason for requiring English.  Again, it is a Judge will be required to make a legal determination on the issue.

Were There Any Other Sources of Stress?

The facts on the matter included her loss of status because she failed to clock in enough hours in character after she had her first child.   This event may be considered a personnel action.  This may also be an issue disputed as being in good faith.  An issue of pregnancy discrimination could be raised.

How Are Causation Percentages Obtained?

Causation percentages are assessed by a mental health practitioner.   Generally, a Psychiatrist or Psychologist will be making that determination.  The medical practitioner can be a Treating Doctor, a Qualified Medical Evaluator, or an Agreed Medical Evaluator. The determination usually requires the Injured Worker to be interviewed and tested.  Evaluation of personnel records, medical records, and witness statements may also be indicated.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation concerning any workers’ compensation case, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

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