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The WCB and employment law in Alberta

Just when you thought employment law was complicated enough, there is a whole other element with the Workers Compensation Board. The WCB is a statutory no fault system, designed to limit employer liability. In exchange, employees get some compensation without having to face the courts to do so.

The WCB in Alberta is focused on injury or death occurring in the workplace. Surprisingly, workplace injuries caused by a number of different issues ranging from assaults in the workplace to bullying in the workplace has been found to be covered by the WCB (although constructive dismissal can still be a remedy in some bullying cases.)

More concerning is the fact that Sexual Assault has been found to be a workplace injury by the Alberta WCB. I am not sure if that decision is correct, or the policy reasons for this. The issue has not been looked at by the courts; that said WCB boards tend to be granted deference by the courts, and tend to have authority of determining the scope of their jurisdiction.

Perhaps the WCB Act should be amended to take some of these issues out of WCB jurisdiction, as none of the above activities are properly workplace activities, in my view.

If you have questions or comments about the interplay between the WCB and employment law, please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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