Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1368 22
L. Petrykowski - M. Falcone - S. Roth
  • Board Directives and Guidelines (stress, mental) (traumatic event)
  • Stress, mental (chronic)

The issues under appeal were: a) whether the worker had initial entitlement to benefits for chronic mental stress (CMS) or traumatic mental stress (TMS) under Claim A or Claim B.

The appeal was denied.
OPM Document No. 15-03-02 requires that the event (or events) be "objectively" traumatic. Tribunal case law has also found that a worker's "subjective" perception is not determinative of whether an event is traumatic, but rather, the situation must be viewed through the lens of a reasonable observer. As noted by the Panel in Decision No. 2185/11, a reasonable observer is one who has full knowledge of the context in which the event occurred and other relevant facts. The objective test is intended to focus the analysis upon relevant and objective evidence, rather than being determined solely by the claimant's reaction or personal experiences. The Panel concluded that there was no objectively traumatic event affecting the worker in either claim.
OPM Document No. 15-03-14 addresses interpersonal conflicts. It states that such conflicts among workers or with supervisors are typical of a work environment and not considered a substantial workplace stressor unless the conduct is such that a reasonable person would consider it egregious or abusive. It was found that this standard had not been met in either claim.