In recent Canadian OH&S News legal precedent has been set in relation to WCB insurance and bullying in the workplace. Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island (WCB) recently awarded benefits to a Hazelbrook, P.E.I. woman, after ruling that her husband’s death by cardiac arrest had been linked to workplace bullying. The reward to the widow was “based on a finding of fact that there was bullying, that there was resultant stress, that that stress was of a degree in severity that induced a heart attack, and that heart attack was fatal,” said her lawyer. The widow’s lawyer in this case James W. Macnutt explained that he and his colleagues, in preparation for this case, attempted to find legal precedent involving a link between workplace bullying and a fatality. They were unsuccessful and were swamped with calls and e-mails from other WCBs across the country in relation to this with their indication that they’re unaware of a similar ruling.
This case sends an important message to employers that there are potential consequences of bullying in the workplace and there is a great necessity for the enforcement of anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies. The widow’s lawyer in this case stressed that he got so many stories from people on the street and other contacts that are saying they have been in workplaces where there is consistent health-threatening and health-injurious bullying where nothing has been done by supervisors.
It’s one thing to have the anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in place, as per legislative requirements, but the key element is the actual enforcement of those policies.
I’ll leave you with the following quote from the widow’s lawyer Macnutt, “the incidence of bullying, which seems to be fairly frequent, has to be controlled, otherwise there will be continuing consequences.”