Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 222 22
G. Dee - S. Sahay - S. Roth
  • Stress, mental
  • Board Directives and Guidelines (stress, mental) (traumatic event)
  • Stress, mental (effect of employment decisions)

The worker sought entitlement for a psychological impairment under the Board's Traumatic Mental Stress policy as a result of an incident that occurred at work in October 2015.

The appeal was denied.
The worker was a business representative for a union. In October 2015 the worker advised her manager about a situation and the manager attended a meeting to deal with it. The manager attended the meeting not fully prepared and felt that he had embarrassed himself as a result of the worker not providing him with the information necessary to understand the situation. The manager blamed the worker for the situation that had occurred. When the manager returned to the office he confronted the worker and let her know about his frustration with what occurred. Following this confrontation the worker left the workplace and sought medical attention and remained off work.
The Panel found the incident at work in October 2015 involved the manager discussing the worker's workplace performance and was excluded as a source of mental stress under s. 13(5) of the WSIA as an action of the worker's employer related to her employment. The Panel found that the primary source of the worker's frustration appeared to be more closely tied to her interpersonal disputes with her manager and the ongoing disagreement that existed about when her employment with the employer was to come to an end.
The Panel noted that despite s. 13(5), entitlement for mental stress may arise from actions of an employer that were violent or discriminatory in their own right. The Panel found, however, that the incident that occurred on October 29, 2015 was not objectively traumatic. The manager raised his voice and yelled at her. The Panel found that while the manager's actions were loud and unpleasant, it would not have created a concern by the worker for her safety as no threats of physical violence were made and the October 2015 incident was not similar to the types of traumatic incidents listed in the Traumatic Mental Stress policy. The Panel wanted to make it clear that the focus was on the single incident on October 29, 2015 and entitlement under the Traumatic Mental Stress policy. It did not involve a situation where there was an alleged pattern of yelling or verbal abuse by the manager under the Board's Chronic Mental Stress policy as that was not an issue under appeal.