‘Perfect legal storm’ brewing with psychological safety in workplace

Report cites 7 areas of concern
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/01/2010

Ten years ago, only severe acts of harassment and bullying resulting in catastrophic psychological harm could lead to legal actions for mental injury. Today, even the “negligent and chronic infliction of excessive work demands” can lead to such claims, said Martin Shain, author of the report Tracking the Perfect Legal Storm.

As a result, pressures are building toward a perfect storm, with a rising tide of liability for employers in connection with failure to provide or maintain a psychologically safe workplace, said the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) report.

“The unmistakable common thread is the increasing insistence of judges, arbitrators and commissioners upon more civil and respectful behaviour in the workplace and avoidance of conduct that a reasonable person should foresee as leading to mental injury,” it said.