Highway Patrol trooper loses harassment case
June 7, 2007
Highway Patrol trooper Lori McGrath has lost her bid for worker’s compensation based on stress caused by harassment.
She filed the claim charging she had suffered extreme and unusual stress over an 18 month period on the job. She said she was the target of “a campaign of harassment and abuse orchestrated by co-workers and superior officers. Those actions included canceling the NHP K-9 program, which she founded, in retaliation for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, inappropriate sexual advances and groundless internal affairs investigations.
But the high court, in an opinion signed by Justices Ron Parraguirre, Jim Hardesty and Nancy Saitta, said the plain language of the statute requires a workers’ compensation claim be based on a “causal relationship between her mental injuries and a discrete, identifiable traumatic event.”
Instead, she based the December 2002 complaint on accumulated stress over the 18 months before that date when she left the job because of her physical and mental problems.
The justices affirmed the ruling by a hearing officer and the district court that her problems were caused by a “gradual mental stimulus” and therefore not qualified as a worker’s compensation injury.