Saturday, January 20, 2007

Supreme Court Finds Abnormal Working Conditions in Harassment Case

In RAG (CYPRUS) Emerald Resources, L.P. v. WCAB (Hopton), Appeal of: Ronald A. Hopton, the Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court's holding that the Claimant's supervisor's "...course of conduct persisted in and clearly calculated to cause severe emotional distress on the part of the claimant..." (WCJ finding) was not an abnormal working condition. The Commonwealth Court relied on Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Guaracino), 544 Pa. 203, 675 A.2d 1213 (1996) to hold the Claimant's response was a subjective reaction to normal working conditions.

The Supreme Court concluded the Commonwealth Court "abused its discretion by not limiting its review to determining whether the WCJ’s factual findings were supported by the record and, instead, focusing on a brief section of testimony not included in the WCJ’s factual findings to support its own conclusion that Rossi’s comments were “normal in the mining industry.” " The Supreme Court went on to find aggravation of the Claimant's pre-existing PTSD was not a subjective reaction of the Claimant and resulted from abnormal working conditions.

Law.Com Article

Legal Newsline Article

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