In a recent case an employer that failed to attend a safety-reprisal hearing has been ordered to pay two employees damages of more than $25,000.00. The employees filed an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board claiming that their dismissal was a reprisal under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The employer failed to attend the hearing. The OLRB also awarded both employees damages in the amount of four weeks’ wages for the “loss of employment” plus $1,500.00 each for “mental distress”. The damages totaled $25,848.00.
This case illustrates what already appears self-evident: employers faced with safety-reprisal complaints under the OHSA must respond and participate in the hearing, or else they will be deemed to have admitted the employee’s allegations – and will be liable for damages.