New Hampshire Governor Signs Mental Stress Bill

June 14, 2001

New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen signed into law a bill to restrict workers’ compensation claims for mental stress caused by an unfavorable job performance review. The bill (House Bill 232) reverses a recent State Supreme Court decision that permitted such claims.

The new law, sponsored by Rep. Robert Clegg, clarifies the New Hampshire workers’ compensation law to state that “‘injury’ or ‘personal injury’ shall not include a mental injury if it results from any disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, termination or any similar action, taken in good faith by an employer.”

“This law (Chapter 47) is needed to prevent a flood of workers’ compensation claims simply because employers perform routine job performance evaluations,” stated Donald Baldini, AIA assistant vice president, northeast region.

The law is needed because the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled last year that a clerk for the state Department of Health and Human Services was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when she was diagnosed with clinical depression following critical performance reviews from her supervisors.

“The workers’ compensation system was never intended to compensate for claims of this type. If this decision was allowed to stand, New Hampshire’s employers would have been vulnerable to a workers’ compensation claim whenever they take a personnel action,” Baldini noted.

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