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There’s getting hurt … then there’s the fear of getting hurt

by on
in Admins,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management

Here’s a tale of workplace terror so harrowing that one of the characters even used a pseudonym when he filed for workers’ comp … for injuries he had yet to receive.

John Doe worked as a mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service in Trenton. In October 2006, Doe claimed that co-worker Carlos Arroyo confronted him for moving Arroyo’s mail. In front of several witnesses, Arroyo allegedly shouted at Doe, then shoved him. When Doe complained, managers sent him and Arroyo home pending an investigation.

The Postal Service instructed Doe to return to work two days later, and his managers assured him he would be working alone. But about two weeks later, management informed Doe that Arroyo was returning to work.

Doe said he did not feel safe in Arroyo’s presence. Post office managers said they could not transfer Arroyo, so Doe agreed to transfer to a different facility. But after a few weeks, the postmaster told him to return to his original work site or apply for a new job. Doe refused to work with Arroyo and began calling in sick instead.

Doe filed a workers’ compensation claim, alleging he suffered from anxiety over his confrontation with Arroyo. The workers’ compensation board found that, while Doe was clearly suffering from anxiety due to the confrontation with Arroyo, his anxiety was centered on a fear of future injury. It turned down his request for benefits.

The “possibility of a future injury does not constitute an injury,” the board ruled.

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