A Brief Research Memo Concerning a Simulated Chicken Head

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Question Presented

Did the judge correctly rule that an employee was entitled to workers' compensation because the work-related events she experienced were the "predominant contributing cause of [her emotional] disability"?

The Facts

Mr. Grillo agreed to provide [medical] insurance [only] if the employee would agree to wear the "chicken head." This was part of a costume consisting of a cloth depiction of a chicken that was worn over the head like a mask. The employee . . . was not in on the "joke" that someone had the chicken head in their office and on occasion it was brought out as a prank usually for being on the losing end of a bet. The workers at this office consider themselves to be quite a fun loving group and often socialize with each other after hours. There was a meeting at headquarters that the employee attended on February 27, 2007 with her young daughter. She was shown the chicken head at that time and declined to wear it. The employee was horrified at the possibility of wearing the chicken head and refused.

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In another e-mail, forwarded to the employee that day, Grillo wrote "[n]o head, no payment." The employee became depressed and stopped working.

Brief Answer



Capello v. DTR Advertising, Inc., Board No. 026109-07 (Mass. Dep't of Indus. Accidents Mar. 23, 2011).