Studies show that approximately 1 in 5 Canadians struggle with a mental health issue, and many of these issues manifest themselves in the workplace. A person’s job is often a significant component of their sense of purpose, and when work demands increase, many will experience stress and anxiety as a result impacting their mental health at work. Another source of work-related stress can occur when an employee is being bullied or harassed at the workplace.
Employers have an obligation to provide a workplace free of bullying and harassment pursuant to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”). Further, employees are protected under OHSA from having their employers retaliate against them for filing a bullying and harassment complaint, and employers have an obligation to investigate any allegation of bullying and harassment.
Issues related to mental health at work now fall under the definition of a “medical disability” within Ontario’s Human Rights Code (the “Code”), so employees who are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues can seek accommodations for these issues with their employer. Under the Code, employers will then have a duty to accommodate the employee’s mental health issue up to the point of undue hardship. “Undue hardship” varies from case to case, but effectively this means that employers have to genuinely try to accommodate an employee’s medical disability so long as doing so does not cause unreasonable costs or administrative issues.
If you are an employee experiencing issues related to mental health at work and want to better understand your rights at your workplace, we encourage you to seek legal advice. Alternatively, if you are an employer looking to ensure that your workplace is properly accommodating employees and has proper workplace bullying and harassment policies in place, we encourage you to have an experienced employment lawyer advise you on these policies.
We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.