Claiming benefits through WSIB because of harassment or bullying at work just got much easier. Until very recently, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act only allowed employees to claim workers compensation benefits if they experienced traumatic mental stress at work. This was very difficult for employees to prove. The law said that the stress had to be brought on by an event that was sudden and unexpected, such as seeing a fatal accident at work.
As I wrote previously, in this blog, the law was found to be unconstitutional. Employees who experienced chronic physical illness could receive benefits. However, those who developed chronic mental illness could not. This treated employees differently on the basis of disability, which is not allowed.
The Ontario government has now changed the law. Employees can seek benefits for both chronic and traumatic mental stress that arises because of work.
What does this really mean?
This change is very significant. Employees who became sick from harassment at work, now have another avenue to seek redress and compensation. The change in the law recognizes that issues at work can affect employees’ mental as well as physical health.
Employees will need to show that a regulated health professional, such as a family physician, has given them a diagnosis based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. They will also need to show that they experienced substantial work-related stressors like bullying/harassment which caused or significantly contributed to the chronic mental stress.
If an employe experienced chronic mental stress from work at any time since April 29, 2014, and has not filed a WSIB claim, she still can.
The changes to the legislation are also clear that managerial decisions which cause mental stress are not covered. If the employee experienced chronic mental stress as a result of a demotion, transfer, discipline or termination, he will not likely qualify for WSIB benefits.
If you have experienced mental stress because of work and are considering your legal options, you should consult a lawyer or contact us at [email protected] or 647-204-8107 and one of our lawyers would be happy to assist you.
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