Fired Two Months After Injury, Employee Loses OHSA Reprisal Complaint

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The Ontario Labour Relations Board has held that an employee who was fired two months after injuring her knee at work, was not dismissed for asserting her safety rights under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The employee claimed, in her application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, that she injured her knee at work in April 2011 and was told by a manager to “walk it off and take it easy over the next few weeks”. She did not lose any work time.

She asserted in her application that in May 2011 her knee injury worsened and she sought medical assistance, and that during June 2011 her employer starting putting together the paperwork to report the injury to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board stated:

“There is nothing pleaded by the applicant to even remotely suggest that her loss of employment was the direct result of acting in compliance with, or seeking the enforcement of, the Act or its regulations, or of giving evidence in a proceeding in respect of the enforcement of the Act or its regulations. As noted by the responding party in its response, the applicant’s only complaint relates to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 16, legislation that is separate and distinct from the Act.”

The OLRB thus dismissed the employee’s application without a full hearing.

This decision shows that the fact that an employee had a recent injury will not, on its own, provide the basis for a reprisal complaint under the Occupational Health and Safety Act where the employee is later dismissed.

Shier v Ice River Springs Water Co, 2012 CanLII 22546 (ON LRB)