By Sara Parchello
Does an employer have a broad obligation to protect employees from mental distress that may be caused in the workplace? Ontario’s Court of Appeal recently answered this question in Piresferreira v. Ayotte and Bell Mobility Inc. with a resounding “no.” The decision reverses, in part, an award made back in 2008 â€“ where an employee was awarded over half a million dollars in damages after her boss pushed her on the shoulder and verbally abused her during a workplace dispute.
Piresferreira was a 60-something account manager who had worked with Bell Mobility for about 10 years. She reported to Richard Ayotte, a person known to be a “critical, demanding, loud and aggressive manager.” He was known to pound his fists on the desk, yell, and swear at his employees, and act in other intimidating ways toward employees. Piresferreira, on the other hand, was known to be a sensitive employee who didn’t take well to criticism.