CLARA C. GAITHER APPELLANT
ARKANSAS FOUNDATION FOR MEDICAL CARE AND SEDGWICK CLAIMS MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC. APPELLEES
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
C. Gaither, pro se appellant.
Munson, Rowlett, Moore & Boone, P.A., by: JB Smiiley Jr.,
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge.
Clara C. Gaither worked as a receptionist for appellee
Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. Ms. Gaither brought a
workers' compensation claim alleging that she developed
chronic headaches, anxiety, and depression as a result of a
racist work environment while working for her employer. The
administrative law judge denied Ms. Gaither's claim,
finding that she failed to prove compensability for her
alleged mental injuries. The Workers' Compensation
Commission affirmed and adopted the ALJ's decision.
Gaither now appeals from the Commission's decision
denying compensability. Her sole argument on appeal is that
Arkansas Code Annotated section 11-9-113 (Repl. 2012), which
governs compensability for mental injuries, is
unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as Article 2,
section 3, of the Arkansas Constitution. Because Ms. Gaither
failed to raise her constitutional argument to either the ALJ
or the Commission, we must affirm.
Gaither testified that she developed chronic headaches as a
result of a harsh and racist work environment. She sought
treatment from Dr. Stanley Burns and Dr. Krameelah Banks, a
licensed psychologist. The medical reports from these doctors
reflected that Ms. Gaither suffered from anxiety disorder,
severe depression, and paranoid ideation, for which she was
prescribed medication. In her testimony, Ms. Gaither admitted
that she had not suffered any physical injury, nor was she
the victim of a crime of violence in the workplace.
ALJ's opinion, which was affirmed and adopted by the
Commission, denied compensability pursuant to Arkansas Code
Annotated section 11-9-113(a)(1), which provides:
A mental injury or illness is not a compensable injury unless
it is caused by physical injury to the employee's body,
and shall not be considered an injury arising out of and in
the course of employment or compensable unless it is
demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence; provided,
however, that this physical injury limitation shall not apply
to any victim of a crime of violence.
and the Commission made the following findings and
Th[e] evidence establishes by a preponderance of the evidence
that the claimant suffers from symptoms of a mental injury or
illness. However, during the hearing, the claimant readily
admitted that she did not suffer any type of physical injury
while working for the respondent-employer. Nor was any type
of evidence presented demonstrating that the claimant was the
victim of a crime of violence in the workplace.
Unfortunately, under these circumstances, the claimant cannot
meet her burden of proof for a compensable mental injury.
Therefore, based on the evidence presented in this case, I am
compelled to find that the claimant has failed to establish
by a preponderance of the evidence that she suffered a mental
injury under the provisions of the Arkansas Workers'
appeal, Ms. Gaither challenges the constitutionality of
Arkansas Code Annotated section 11-9-113, and specifically
argues that the statute is unconstitutional because it
arbitrarily treats similarly-situated persons differently.
Ms. Gaither contends that there is no rational basis for
treating mental injuries differently than physical injuries.
She asserts that the physical-injury requirement for proving
a compensable mental injury violates equal protection.
unable to reach the merits of Ms. Gaither's
constitutional claim. This is because, by Ms. Gaither's
own admission, she failed to raise the argument in the
supreme court has held that, although an administrative
agency does not have the authority to declare a statute
unconstitutional, a constitutional issue must nonetheless be
raised before the administrative agency to preserve the issue
for appeal. AT&T Commc'ns ofthe SW.,
Inc. v. Ark. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 344 Ark. 188, 40
S.W.3d 273 (2001). This principle applies to appeals from the
Workers' Compensation Commission. Shaw v.Commercial Refrigeration, 36 Ark.App. 76, 818 S.W.2d
589 (1991); Hamilton v. Jeffrey StoneCo.,
6 Ark.App. 333, 641 S.W.2d 723 (1982). In refusing to ...