Protracted return to work caused more mental anguish for employee: Arbitrator

Coca-Cola put employee on sick leave retraining program rather than return him to work
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 11/02/2011

A 64-year-old worker at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Brampton, Ontario has been awarded $18,000 in damages for mental distress following a six year battle to get his old job back.

The employee had worked at the company's plant in nearby Thorncliffe since 1978. Over the course of his career, he suffered workplace injuries that left him with permanent disabilities. When the company opened a new plant in Brampton in 2001, the worker elected to stay in Thorncliffe to take a general duties position compatible with his injuries, which included psychological issues.

In 2002, the worker was told his job was being eliminated. He asked the manager about a new job and it was suggested he apply for a position operating a forklift. The worker was reluctant because of a previous back injury, but was told it was the only available job. He tried the position, while continuing to raise concerns about his disability, and shortly thereafter was told not to report for work. Instead, he was placed on sick leave and made eligible for worker's compensation.