In the recent case of San Bernardino v. WCAB (McCoy), 203 Cal App 4th 1469, the WCAB has confirmed that physical manifestations of stress are subject to the same causation requirements and defenses of any standard psyche claim.

In McCoy, applicant filed a claim of stress based on issues with his supervisor. Applicant later amended his claim to include migraine headaches as part of the stress. The claim proceeded to trial on good faith personnel defenses. The WCJ found in favor of the defense and confirmed the stress was related to good faith personnel defenses. However the WCJ found migraine headaches were not classified as mental disorder and thus could not be defended by good faith personnel actions.

On appeal, the WCAB overruled the WCJ finding physical manifestations of stress fell within the bounds of psyche injuries and thus were subject to the same defenses. The WCAB indicated that Labor Code section 3208.3 was designed to limit psyche injuries. Therefore physical manifestations of stress that are solely related to good faith personnel defenses would be barred as well.

Therefore if you have psyche claims with associated physical symptoms, a defeat of the psyche claim for good faith personnel actions will also defeat any associated physical symptom. However I would anticipate applicants will simply argue their physical symptoms are not directly related to their work related stress but rather a separate claim simply to get around this case law.