In the case of Bermudez v. Dielectrics Company, et al., the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently ruled in favor of Attorney Tim Ryan’s argument that his client, Ms. Bermudez, could sue her employer for retaliation after it fired her for bringing a third-party negligence claim.
Attorney Ryan has been practicing employment law on behalf of both employers and employees since the 1980s. His experience on both sides has enabled him to master the nuances of Massachusetts’ complex employment laws from the perspective of workers and companies.
In Bermudez, Ryan's client’s claim was based on a work-place injury that she suffered while previously working for the company as a temporary employee. Later, Ms. Bermudez as a full-time employee, brought a negligence claim related to her injuries under M.G.L. c. 152, §15, the provision in the workers’ compensation statute that allows benefit recipients to also file third-party claims against those responsible for their injury.
In addition to his successes in the courtroom, Attorney Tim Ryan (above) also serves on the Springfield City Council.
The defendant argued that Ms. Bermudez had no claim under § 75B of the workers’ compensation statute, which prohibits an employer from retaliating against its employee for exercising a right “afforded” by the statute, because the right to sue a tortfeasor is a common-law right, not one created by M.G.L. c. 152.
However, Attorney Ryan maintained that his client was exercising a statutory right to bring her claim. “And in an economy that’s increasingly moving toward these temporary employees, that’s an important protection,” Ryan said.
The Superior Court agreed with the defendant, dismissing the claim. Often, such decisions result in the end of a case. However, Attorney Ryan continued fighting in the Appeals Court, believing that the Superior Court’s decision was not in line with the statute.
The Appeals Court agreed with Ryan and overruled the Superior Court’s dismissal of the case.
“It is clear that the act did not create, or bring into existence, the right to sue a third party in tort,” wrote the Hon. James R. Lemire, Associate Justice of the Appeals Court. “[T]he act does, however, afford the right to do so by specifically allowing an employee to initiate a third-party action in addition to receiving benefits through workers’ compensation.”
According to Attorney Ryan, the decision confirms that temporary workers are protected against retaliation.
Do you have a case that involves employment law? Contact Attorney Tim Ryan today at email@example.com or by calling (413) 737-0260.