The legal case for an EAP

Courts have shown a willingness to punish employers that don’t take steps to deal with depression
By Natalie C. MacDonald
|CHRR, Report on Healthy Workplaces|Last Updated: 04/25/2006

An RCMP constable in British Columbia who endured years of harassment from her commanding officer was recently awarded $950,000 by the B.C. Supreme Court. The harassment left her in such a severe depression and fragile emotional state that she is unlikely to work ever again.

When workplace harassment goes unchecked, the costs to an organization, both socially and economically, can be significant. Many of the victims become emotionally abused to the point they take stress leave, resulting in a loss of productivity and increasing health benefit costs. Others may resign from their employment, but turn around and sue the company for not protecting them from the harassers. This can result in substantial legal costs. With the recent number of cases being brought by employees who believe they have suffered workplace psychological harassment in one form or another, employers should do everything they can to decrease their liability.

In cases of workplace harassment, the onus is on the employee to prove, on a balance of probabilities, the harassment has reached a poisonous level and continuing in the workplace is untenable. In such cases, the employee would claim he has been constructively dismissed as a result of the employer’s failure or unwillingness to address the problem.