She was grabbed, endured sexual taunts and followed into the washroom. The WSIB says this wasn't workplace harassment

Posted
January 7, 2019
Article Source
Toronto Star

The presence of "pin-up girls and scantily clad models" throughout a workplace is "unprofessional," but is not bullying or harassment.
 
The use of "sexually explicit language" to and about "women and alternative lifestyles" on the job is "inappropriate," but is not bullying or harassment.
 
Misogynistic comments about "having to work with women" are "upsetting," but are not bullying or harassment.
 
Being physically swarmed by members of the public and called a dyke on the job are "unwelcome" behaviours, but are not bullying or harassment.
 
And none of it is grounds for a worker diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress to win a chronic mental stress claim, according to a recent decision by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
 
"I'm actually, I guess, shocked more than anything. Not by the fact they denied it. But the language they used to excuse it all is, in this day and age, I find that really shocking," said Margery Wardle, a former heavy equipment operator whose case was shut down by the board last month.
 
"They don't try and pretend that it didn't happen. They just dismissed it."
 
While the decision seen by the Star does not dispute Wardle's experiences on the job, it says her "stress appears to be in response to interpersonal conflict," which is not covered by the board's chronic mental stress policy.
 
"Interpersonal conflict is a typical feature of normal employment and is generally not considered to be a substantial work-related stressor," the decision reads.
 
In a statement to the Star, board spokesperson Christine Arnott said the WSIB wanted "anyone dealing with work-related chronic mental stress (CMS) to get the help and support they need."
 
The policy, which took effect last year, extends benefits coverage to cases where employees experience a "substantial work-related stressor" and abusive workplace behaviour that rises to the level of workplace harassment. Under the policy, workers are not entitled to chronic stress compensation for "typical features" of employment, including problems stemming from discipline, demotions, transfers or termination.
 
"When we look at these claims we have to consider all facts and circumstances surrounding the events and allegations, including any actions the employer has taken to address the issues," Arnott said.
 
"The definition of harassment that guides our decisions, and is included in our CMS policy, is consistent with the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) and guidance from the Ontario Human Rights Commission."

Read more: She was grabbed, endured sexual taunts and followed into the washroom. The WSIB says this wasn't workplace harassment