WCB claim arises from alleged bullying

Dear Blue Collar,

Q: One of our veteran workers is getting on in age. She’s very experienced and we’d like her knowledge transmitted to an eventual successor. However, as I discovered, the worker is extremely sensitive to any suggestion that she’s being replaced. I tried to allay these fears, but she lashed out at me. And now she’s on WCB for a mental injury that I allegedly triggered, or aggravated. What now?

A: Discussion related to a worker’s retirement is a loaded gun. Any inference that you were persuading her to retire would be viewed as both a constructive dismissal and a violation of the human rights code based on age discrimination.

Regarding the claim, WCB interprets ‘trauma’ to include any response to a disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, or diminishes one’s sense of self. On these grounds, ‘trauma’ may stem from a toxic workplace, perceived bullying, excessive workload, feuds with coworkers, microaggressions, ad infinitum.

If WCB was led to believe that you harmed the worker’s self-esteem, the Board will usually take the employee’s word for it. However, you mention “aggravated.” If there’s reason to believe the worker has a history of mental illness, there may be an opportunity for cost relief.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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About Me

Ben Barfett, Principal and Consultant, has spent his life in the construction sector, specifically heavy civil, enviro, commercial, and energy. Having held senior roles in business development, technical advisory, and regional management, he earned his stripes in the field and in head office. Conscious of the interplay between commercial, legal, and execution aspects of construction, his business insights are informed by expertise in WCB policy and enhanced with disability-specific training. 

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Blue Collar Consulting

Blue Collar Consulting is a WCB and disability management firm. The company specializes in rapid and affordable disability solutions that advance current claims, contain the cost of future claims, and get injured workers back on their feet. 

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