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DR. Michael Shery, clinical psychology

  2615 Three Oaks Rd. Ste 2A;  Cary, IL 60013   847 275 8236 (24 Hrs);



Doctoral degree: University of Southern California, 1975





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How Personnel Issues Contaminate Workers' Compensation Stress Claims


Workers' compensation laws are based on a no-fault concept in which liability depends on whether the employee's injury arose out of and in the course of employment.


Tort liability, such as intentional or negligent acts of the employer, does not have to be proved. Common law defenses for the employer are also not relevant.


Since the inception of these laws, however, there has been a gradual expansion of workers' compensation liability, especially in the area of stress claims.


Broadening concepts of accidental injury and occupational disease have increased the chance that conditions unrelated to employment will be found compensable, making the employer a general insurer of employee health and employability.


Personnel issues often form the background of stress claims, or are said to be the stress itself for which compensation is sought. Because they are ubiquitous, however, a no-fault concept for recovery may not be appropriate any longer.


Unlike other types of employment stress which are a natural incident to the performance of the work, i.e. flow from the type of work, the amount of work, or circumstances that are a direct result of work duties, personnel issues are a by-product of relationships.


They include the relationship between employee and employer, as well as employee with other employees. Inevitably, relationships create conflicts, and conflicts create stress.


Similarly, managerial decisions and actions may be necessary to resolve conflicts or to advance the needs of the organization, and these can create stress. Since personnel issues are a part of all employment, they need to be considered in every workers' compensation stress claim.


At times, claimants will point to them directly as the source of their employment stress. At other times, claimants will point to something else, when covert personnel issues are the actual problem and are often due to inadequate productivity or poor quality of performance.


Often employees complain that they are overworked, unfairly criticized, provided with inadequate resources, or have insurmountable obstacles to acceptable performance.


Where their complaints are justified, their claim may be understandable. However, in other instances, performance problems arise from the employee's own poor performance.


In any case, a negative performance evaluation or criticism from a supervisor is understandably stressful, but that stress may arise more from the employee than the employment and personality differences also lead to the conflict.


When those differences are a result of personality disturbance in the employee, manager, or co-employee, the conflict can be extreme. For example, if an employee has maladaptive ways of dealing with others because of paranoid or borderline traits, this can be extremely disruptive to the other employees and can also interfere with work performance.


Personality disturbances may represent occasional inappropriate behaviors or an actual disorder characterized by pervasive interpersonal problems.


Some employees because of their personality disturbance have unusual perceptions by which they misread how others interact with or feel about them. They may, in fact, draw negative feedback because of their own peculiarities, or may feel victimized by co-employees and managers.


Managers with personality dysfunctions can, of course, make an employment setting intolerable to all employees also, with understandable stressful consequences.


These include fear of, or actual, layoffs or terminations. They also include distress over reprimands and warnings which jeopardize the employee's job.


In some circumstances, employment insecurity is a result of the employee's own behavior from poor performance, maladaptive personality traits, or lack of motivation.


However, looking at the reasonableness of either employer or employee behavior injects a tort liability concept which is incompatible with a no-fault system.


Employers must have sufficient control over the productivity and quality of an employee's performance and must respond when there are performance failures or other behavioral problems. Consequently, it may be that public policy wishes to make employers essentially general insurers of employee health and employability, but that was certainly not the intent of original workers' compensation legislation.


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Dr. Mike Shery is the director of ACRS and pre-screens injury victims for psychological prevent it, when present, from being overlooked in a claim and it’s available nationwide.  He also is a licensed clinical psychologist. He has practiced clinical psychology for approximately 24 years and is affiliated with almost all health plans, including: ValueOptions, Medicare, Cigna, Cigna Behavioral Health, United Health Care, Aetna, First Health, Healthstar, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, ComPsych, Magellan Health, HFN, Tricare, Humana, most union local plans, most school district plans, Unicare, ChoiceCare, CAPP, Multiplan, Mental Health Network, Managed Health Network, PHCS, PPONext, Humana Military-Tricare, United Behavioral Health and Beech Street.


He is board certified as a specialist in professional counseling by the International Academy of Behavioral Medicine, Counseling and Psychotherapy. He a member of the American Counseling Association.


The office is located in Cary, IL, near Crystal Lake and Algonquin, northern Kane County and in southern McHenry County. In select cases, phone consultations are available for those who don’t live locally> Telephone Counseling.


To make an appointment>New Patient Registration  or to learn more about the psychological services he provides call him at 1-847-275-8236 (24 Hrs).





To make an appointment, call 1-847-275-8236, or schedule yourself in our online appointment book now;


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