Focus On

Workplace Health, Safety & Compensation Law - Workers’ compensation - Compensability of injuries - Psychological injuries - Stress

Thursday, September 08, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by the Attorney General from a decision by the Appeals Tribunal allowing Mullin’s appeal. Mullin was employed by the Correctional Service of Canada at a maximum security penitentiary. In 2012, Mullin requested stress leave. While on leave, a psychologist with the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission’s (Commission) medical advisor evaluated Mullin’s file and concluded that the evidence did not demonstrate emotionally overwhelming stress. In March 2013, the Commission informed Mullin that his claim had been disallowed on the basis that he had not satisfied the requirement that the claim had arisen out of or in the court of his employment. The Appeals Tribunal concluded Mullin’s claim for mental stress should have been accepted and allowed his appeal. The Attorney General submitted that the Appeals Tribunal committed a reversible error in its interpretation and application of the proper test for gradual onset mental stress claims, and in its determination that Mullin met the test for a compensable mental stress claim as a federal government employee in New Brunswick.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The decision of the Appeals Tribunal was set aside and the Commission’s decision was restored. The Tribunal erred in law by concluding federal government employees in New Brunswick were eligible for compensation for claims grounded in gradual onset of stress. In order for a New Brunswick employee to receive compensation for a claim of mental stress, it must arise as an acute reaction to a traumatic event. The record before the Tribunal did not support a finding that Mullin suffered an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event. The onset of the stress suffered by Mullin was gradual. This was the finding of the Appeals Tribunal in spite of its decision to award compensation. Had the Appeals Tribunal applied the proper law and the proper test, it would have reached the inescapable conclusion that Mullin’s claim could not succeed.