Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 3529 18
S. Shime - M. Christie - C. Salama
  • Arising out of employment (assault)
  • Stress, mental

On May 2, 2011 the worker was assaulted by her former spouse from who she separated in 2010. Her spouse also was employed by the accident employer, although he worked in another department. On the day of the assault the worker's co-worker/former spouse came into the office, which was not an area of the store he frequented, and was told to leave and go to his department. The co-worker/spouse left the office at that time. The worker then left the office. As she entered the stairwell to walk downstairs, he attacked her in the stairwell and grabbed her by the throat.

The worker was seeking entitlement to benefits for traumatic mental stress (TMS) for this incident.
The Panel found that the worker developed mental stress as an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event that occurred when she was attacked in the stairwell from which she developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the assault.
The ARO denied entitlement for TMS as the section 13(2) presumption was rebutted by the worker's personal relationship with her attacker.
The Panel concluded however that the weight of the evidence established that the attack on the worker was a work-related occurrence. The evidence showed that the spouse/co-worker had entered a restricted area behind the bakery counter to view the worker's schedule on May 1, 2011, the day before the attack; he was able to enter the upstairs office on the day of the incident due to his status as an employee; also he was able to access the worker in the office area based on his knowledge of the workplace and the routines of the department where the worker was employed.
The co-worker spouse therefore had access and ability to gather information about the worker and her whereabouts and move freely into restricted areas due to his status as an employee of the accident employer.
The worker therefore was entitlement to benefits for TMS as arising from this incident.