An examination of mental illness in Canadian workplaces

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Title An examination of mental illness in Canadian workplaces: a content analysis of trends and directions in Canadian arbitration case decisions
Author(s) Anne MacAulay
Date 2010
Institution University of Prince Edward Island
Supervisor(s) Wendy Carroll
Degree earned Master of Business Administration
Place published Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Abstract Mental illness has become one of the leading reasons for absenteeism in Canadian workplaces. Employers are challenged to become more aware, educated, and active about mental illness in order to assist employees with workplace accommodations. In the 2006 report by Kirby and Keon, stigma was highlighted as a significant barrier to progress in disclosure and handling of such cases. As a result, cases arise where employers, unions, and employees struggle to resolve situations requiring accommodation, with some ending up in arbitration to seek a third party ruling. To examine this phenomenon more closely, a content analysis of Canadian arbitration case decisions relating to mental illness both pre- and post- the Kirby and Keon report was conducted. The overall trend indicates that arbitration cases involving mental illness have more than tripled over the past 20 years. The preliminary findings from this study show that arbitrators are struggling in their assessment of the medical evidence, but they have made it very clear that the employer has a duty to gather medical information if a mental illness is suspected. Arbitrators in their case analysis are looking for a connection between the employees conduct and mental illness. The case decisions also show that employer practices are contributing to and/ or exacerbating an employee‟s mental health disability.
Use/Reproduction In presenting this signature project report in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Prince Edward Island, the author has agreed that the Robertson Library, University of Prince Edward Island, may make this signature project freely available for inspection and gives permission to add an electronic version of the signature project to the Digital Repository at the University of Prince Edward Island. Moreover the author further agrees that permission for extensive copying of this signature project report for scholarly purposes may be granted by the professor or professors who supervised the author’s project work, or, in their absence, by the Dean of the School of Business. It is understood that any copying or publication or use of this signature project report or parts thereof for financial gain shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission. It is also understood that due recognition shall be given to the author and to the University of Prince Edward Island in any scholarly use which may be made of any material in the author’s report. Address: UPEI School of Business 550 University Avenue Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3

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