In an unusual case, a psychiatrist has decided to disclose, to
an employee's employer and the police, a threat made by the
employee against the employer in a confidential psychiatric
treatment session. And an arbitrator has held that the
employer was entitled to rely on that disclosure in deciding to
dismiss the employee.
The employee was a "residential counsellor" for an
organization that operated group homes for persons with
"intellectual disabilities or mental health issues."
A psychiatrist treating the employee decided that she was
obligated to breach confidentiality and report to the police that,
during a session with the employee, he had made statements that she
interpreted as a threat that he might do something serious to harm
some members of senior management of his employer.
The arbitrator hearing the employee's dismissal grievance
decided that it made no difference that the employee made the
threat "in the context of a therapeutic relationship with
someone he thought was bound by strict rules of
confidentiality". This was not a criminal case involving
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The employee
"said what he said", and it continued to have an impact
on the feelings and emotions of some of the employee's
immediate supervisors. The employer was entitled to rely on
the threat in disciplining the employee.
However, the arbitrator held that the employer did not have just
cause to dismiss the employee. His threat was not made directly to
the employer, but rather was made in a therapeutic session, as a
"cry for help". Further, an assessment of the
employee found that he was not a current threat and he was able to
return to work. However, the arbitrator imposed strict
reinstatement terms on the employee, including that he continue
taking certain medications, attend certain treatment sessions, and
that the employee authorize his therapist to report whether the
employee is attending treatment sessions and making good faith
efforts to participate in the therapy.
FMC is one of Canada's leading business and litigation law
firms with more than 500 lawyers in six full-service offices
located in the country's key business centres. We focus on
providing outstanding service and value to our clients, and we
strive to excel as a workplace of choice for our people. Regardless
of where you choose to do business in Canada, our strong team of
professionals possess knowledge and expertise on regional, national
and cross-border matters. FMC's well-earned reputation for
consistently delivering the highest quality legal services and
counsel to our clients is complemented by an ongoing commitment to
diversity and inclusion to broaden our insight and perspective on
our clients' needs. Visit:
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Dentons hosted a panel discussion about the management of liabilities and risks associated with environmental crises, including potential liabilities for directors and officers and provided insight into risk and liability techniques associated with environmental crisis management.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).