Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 423 14
S. Martel - M. Christie - C. Salama
  • Disability (disabled from working)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Stress, mental

The worker was hired in July 1995 as a temporary worker to be a subway janitor. Four days later, he was attacked and threatened by three individuals, but was not physically hurt. He continued to work at a different subway station where he worked with a partner until his temporary employment ended in October 1995. He was rehired in December 1996 and worked as a trackman, until November 1997 when he was transferred back to subway janitorial duties. The worker laid off work. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for traumatic mental stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.

There was no dispute that the worker was assaulted in July 1995, and that he was distressed at the time. He was informally accommodated by being moved to a large station with a two-janitor crew. He was able to lead his life in essentially the same way as prior to the accident and was able to continue working at night as a subway janitor, as long as he did not work alone. After working day shifts in track repair, he was reassigned to janitorial work, without reassurances that he would not have to work alone at night. This brought to light his previous fears of how he felt after the 1995 assault.
The Panel did not accept the increasing importance ascribed to the 1995 assault in subsequent years. Since 1997, there have been multiple labour relations issues, multiple absences from disciplinary meetings and an investigation of the worker regarding a complaint of inappropriate conduct. These subsequent matters have clouded the picture regarding the extent of disability caused by the 1995 assault.
The Panel concluded that the worker had entitlement for post-traumatic stress disorder, with the resulting disability of being unable to work alone at night. Any disability beyond that restriction was not related to the 1995 accident. The appeal was allowed.