WorkSafeBC has now published its three new Occupational Health & Safety Workplace Bullying & Harassment Policies. These policies create new obligations for employers, workers and supervisors related to preventing workplace bullying & harassment. They will be effective November 1, 2013. I will discuss these further in a subsequent post.
In a bizarre case the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ordered the reinstatement of a non-union applicant 10 years after she went on disability leave for an anxiety disorder, plus compensation for lost wages since 2003. My colleague Danielle Scorda assisted with this post about Fair v. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, 2013 HRTO 440.
The applicant was employed as a Supervisor, Regulated Substances, Asbestos. She was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder arising from her fear that in making a mistake about asbestos removal she could be personally liable for breach of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The applicant received LTD benefits from the fall of 2001 until April 2004 when she was assessed as capable of gainful employment. It was found that the respondent school board failed to take steps to investigate possible accommodation and offer the applicant available alternative work. The adjudicator found that there was more than one position that could have reasonably been offered to the applicant in order to accommodate her. Continue reading
In a much anticipated decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that employers need only report workplace accidents when there is a nexus between the hazard giving rise to the death or critical injury and a realistic risk to worker safety at that workplace. The original decision by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, which was upheld on judicial review, had very broad implications for the operators of recreational businesses.
The decision is Blue Mountain Resorts Limited v. Ontario (Labour), 2013 ONCA 75 (CanLII) (“Blue Mountain”). My colleague, Matthew Larsen, has provided a thorough summary which you will find by clicking “continue reading”. Continue reading
WorkSafeBC recently published an Interim Practice Directive on Mental Disorder claims under Section 5.1 of the Workers Compensation Act. For an update, please see my article in B.C. Human Resources Management Association’s (HRMA) online publication HRVoice.org.
My colleague Matthew Larsen reports:
A recent arbitration decision out of Ontario involving Telus Communications and the Telecommunications Workers Union reinforces the importance of carefully applying the principles of progressive discipline. The Arbitrator’s unfortunate decision to reinstate a grievor, despite noting his “atrocious” and “unbelievably bad” record, serves as a valuable lesson for employers. This is particularly true for employers who are dealing with employees that repeatedly fail to adhere to company policies. Continue reading
An Ontario jury recently made an unprecedented decision related to workplace bullying against Walmart. As there are no formal written reasons for jury awards, the following discussion by Ryan Copeland is based on a number of reports on the case (see sources at the end).
Appropriate conduct in the workplace is ever changing. The most recent shift concerns bullying in the workplace, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the stern, often aggressive management styles of yesteryear may no longer be appropriate in the Canadian workplace. In light of this change in attitudes, employers must take note or suffer what may be very serious consequences, which are perhaps no better evidenced than the recent jury ruling by the Ontario High Court of Justice, which awarded 1.46 million dollars to an employee who claimed her manager bullied her.
I have been discussing Bill 14 a lot this year. The British Columbia Court of Appeal has just issued a very significant decision related to the mental disorder provisions under the Workers Compensation Act (“WCA”). The case deals with the pre-Bill 14 language but is applicable to the new expanded language. The Court decided that it had no jurisdiction over an action by a worker against her employer alleging mental stress that arose out of and in the course of her employment.
Downs Construction Ltd. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal, 2012 BCCA 392: On appeal was a decision by the WCAT that was upheld on judicial review. A female worker suffered stress-related injuries as a result of conduct of a male co-worker. When the injured worker sued her co-worker and their employer, Downs Construction, it was asserted that the court action was barred by section 10 of the WCA which places exclusive jurisdiction over injuries to workers arising out of and in the course of their employment with adjudicators in the no-fault workers’ compensation scheme. Continue reading
When ICBC’s 1500 workers go on strike for one day on Tuesday, September 18th, do not expect ICBC to permit overtime work to catch them up on missed work. ICBC is already on the hook for past overtime that it never expected to pay. As recently reported by Christopher Reynolds of the Vancouver Sun, an Arbitrator ordered ICBC to pay out unauthorized overtime and ensure employees do not work beyond their regular hours unless they will be paid for it. The decision involved a unionized workforce but the lessons learned from it are applicable to non-union workforces too. Continue reading
In a prior post I discussed the changes to the “mental stress” provisions of British Columbia’s Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2011 that came into effect July 1, 2012. WorkSafeBC subsequently published its amended compensation policy C3-13.00 that will govern the determination of claims under the new “mental disorder” provisions. The Policy should be carefully reviewed by those dealing with OHS matters in the workplace and those responsible for human resource implications that arise from the broadened scope of compensable mental disorder claims.
Complex claims: The Policy recognizes that mental disorder claims pose much greater challenges with adjudication because of the potential host of factors that may cause a mental disorder such as personal stressors, non-workplace injuries, non-workplace health conditions and work-related stressors. Unwinding this matrix of potential causes commences with a proper psychiatric (DSM) diagnosis by a registered psychiatrist or psychologist – previously a family physician could make the diagnosis. It will be important for the Board and employers which are monitoring claims to understand that a DSM diagnosis requires the medical assessor to undertake a thorough review of all potential past and present medical and non-medical causes of the mental disorder as part of a proper multi-axial diagnostic approach. Continue reading
Submissions to Worksafe BC due Friday, June 15. More to come …