Home Featured Residential care home worker fired for resident abuse, not for raising bullying and harassment concerns: Tribunal

Residential care home worker fired for resident abuse, not for raising bullying and harassment concerns: Tribunal

by HR Law Canada

A care aide at a residential care facility was fired for “resident abuse,” not for raising concerns about workplace bullying and harassment, the British Columbia Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) has ruled.

The case was an appeal, filed by the worker, of an earlier ruling by WorkSafeBC.

The care aide worker, with a three-year tenure at a residential care facility, reported facing workplace bullying, body shaming, and sexual harassment from a co-worker. The sexual harassment allegation led to a warning for the male co-worker, but it was not found to be workplace harassment.

The worker also made claims of a toxic work environment, alleging favoritism, gossip, and intimidation.

The specific incident of “resident abuse” occurred on May 23, 2021, when the care aide worker confronted a colleague over the “body shaming” comments. There were some minor discrepancies regarding the exact details of the event, but it was agreed upon that the confrontation lasted for several minutes and was witnessed by two residents.

This incident was later investigated by the British Columbia residential care licensing branch, which labeled it as “resident abuse.”

The care aide worker was terminated on June 14, 2021, based on the board’s findings, emphasizing the facility’s zero-tolerance policy towards “resident abuse.”

Law and Policy guidelines, as highlighted by Sections 47 to 50 of the Workers Compensation Act, provide a framework for addressing workers’ rights and protections. To validate a prohibited action complaint, specific conditions must be met, including establishing a direct link between the worker’s safety activities and the negative employment outcomes experienced.

The tribunal found that while the worker did experience negative employment consequences and engaged in protected safety activities, the evidence did not support her claim that her termination was a direct result of her raising concerns about bullying and harassment The employer’s argument was supported by the independent findings from the residential care licensing branch.

In conclusion, the WCAT sided with the initial decision from July 7, 2022, which stated that the worker’s termination was attributed to “resident abuse” and not her reported safety concern. As a result, the worker’s appeal was denied.

For more information, see A2202027 (Re), 2023 CanLII 72840 (BC WCAT)

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