Work can be stressful, and stress is a common part of employment for many people. In fact, occasional or light stress may even be an invigorating and motivational aspect of one’s work in some cases. However, excessive or prolonged stress can quickly turn toxic, overwhelming employees and eventually leading to more severe issues, such as anxiety, depression, physical ailments or even addiction issues. Similarly, harassment on the job can also have an immediate and significant impact on a person’s mental well-being. Ongoing harassment may contribute to the development or worsening of existing mental health issues, prompting an employee to make a claim for disability if the powers that be have failed to sufficiently address the issue.
Employers in Ontario have a duty to provide every employee with a work environment free of harassment under provincial human rights legislation. If an employer fails to intervene in a harassment situation, they could become subject to civil claims for constructive dismissal. In addition, if working conditions become so toxic as to cause a disorder that prevents an employee from properly doing their job, they may form the basis for a legitimate long-term disability claim.
As with other psychological issues, some insurers have demonstrated a greater reluctance to approve long-term disability claims for issues that some may view with more skepticism than a proven physical ailment. If you are considering bringing a claim for long-term disability based on burnout or workplace stress, it is important to understand the language in your disability insurance policy. The policy will set out the requirements for demonstrating a legitimate claim, and it may not always be easy to decipher. While many doctors may support time off for mental stress, this may not be sufficient under the terms of your specific policy. The requirements for obtaining sufficient medical evidence to support a claim will be set out in the policy’s terms and it is important to have a clear understanding of your obligations. A skilled disability lawyer will thoroughly review your policy with you and explain exactly what is covered and the associated evidence that must be provided.
In many cases, an insurance provider will require an Independent Medical Examination by a provider-approved physician before allowing a claim. Further, the medical evidence will be required to establish “total disability” in accordance with the policy’s definition. Navigating the specific language in a disability policy can be tricky. At MK Disability Lawyers, we have extensive experience working with both employees and insurance companies in drafting and interpreting these terms. We work with clients to ensure that they know exactly what their obligations are and have a full appreciation of what is required on their part to successfully challenge a claim denial or termination for workplace burnout or harassment.
Simply going to work should never endanger your physical or mental well-being. We have helped many clients successfully demonstrate the psychological harm a toxic workplace can cause and advocated on their behalf to achieve a fair outcome in a related disability dispute with their insurance provider. We regularly work with clients to gather the necessary medical evidence to prove a claim related to burnout or workplace harassment, helping to guide them through the complex process involved in disputing a denial of long-term disability benefits.
As mentioned above, in some cases, employers may play a role in their employee’s suffering, particularly in situations where a toxic work environment has been allowed to continue once the employer is made aware of it. Oftentimes our clients will have a related civil claim against their employer while also looking to obtain long-term disability benefits for their condition. In these cases, we provide representation in the related employment action, saving clients from having to engage multiple law firms. This provides the additional benefit of allowing us to strategically manage the timing of simultaneous claims in order to maximize benefits to our clients.
At MK Disability Lawyers, we do our best to take on the stress of dealing with our clients’ long-term disability disputes, so they don’t have to. For clients suffering from psychological conditions resulting from a toxic work environment, we are sensitive to their individual needs and will accommodate them to the best of our ability. If you have had a long-term disability claim relating to workplace stress denied or terminated, we can help. To arrange a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced disability lawyers, please complete the online form, or call us at 844-697-4600.