Can I Leave My Job Due To Stress?

You can quit due to stress, and you may qualify for constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal may occur through fundamental breaches of essential employment terms such as compensation, job responsibilities, and the term of employment. You could also file complaint to WSIB, HRTO, MOL while you are still on the job.

Do I have to Quit My Job to Claim Damage?

We have gone a long way from the old British common law of constructive dismissal to a system where an employee can claim damage while on the job without quitting. In the old constructive dismissal scenario, there must be a contractual breach either explicit or implied, and the employee must show intention to quit, usually in the form of a resignation letter, due to the contractual breach. There’s a high risk of losing a case of constructive dismissal as the employee bears the burden of proof, which frankly isn’t easy to proof in most cases.

Click here to learn more about constructive dismissal.

But now in Ontario, you DON’T have to quit the job before claiming damage and to do something about the job related stress. There’s a couple of administrative tribunals that you can file a complaint to while you are still on the job. You can file a complaint to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), Ministry of Labour – Health & Safety (MOL), just to name a few. 

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)

Time Limit to File Complaint: 6 Months within the Incident

Section 13 of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (“WSIA”) now provides for entitlement under the insurance plan for chronic and traumatic mental stress, where a worker is entitled to benefits under the insurance plan for chronic or traumatic mental stress arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. In these cases, the worker is entitled to WSIB benefits as if the mental stress were a personal injury by accident.

 Click here to learn more about how to file a complaint to WSIB.

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO)

Time Limit to File Complaint: 12 Months within the Incident

In Ontario, the Human Rights Code (The Code) expressly prohibits employment-related discrimination and harassment because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.

​Do note that HRTO will only entertain claims related to the Human Rights Code violations. If your employer is picking on you or is being hostile and unfriendly towards you personally, while you might have a claim of wrongful dismissal, HRTO is not the right forum for you as it’s not discrimination and harassment based on protected grounds, mentioned above.

Please click here to go to the Harassment and Discrimination page for a detailed discussion on this topic.

Click here to learn more about how to file a complaint to the HRTO.

Ministry of Labour – Health & Safety (MOL)

Time Limit to File Complaint: 12 Months within the Incident

If you have suffered chronic and traumatic mental stress as a result of office harassment, the right forum of choice is WSIB. If you have suffered from discrimination and harassment on protected ground, the right forum of choice is HRTO. If the employer has a personal grudge against you, or was picking on you personally, but was not discrimination based, then MOL could be your forum of choice. You can file a claim to the Ministry of Labour under Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Please note that unlike the ESA, OHSA applies to all workers, who are defined in Section 1 as a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation. In another word, you DON'T need to be an employee to be protected by OHSA. ​

Click here to learn more about how to file a complaint to Ministry of Labour for a Workplace Harassment Complaint.

I Have Already Quit My Job Due to Stress, What’s My Options?

I hope you have a chance to read this article before you quit your job. But if you have already quit your job, you have a couple of options. 1) To sue under the Common Law principle of wrongful dismissal and hope for the best; or 2) file a complaint to one of the administrative tribunals mentioned above as whether you have quit your job or not is irrelevant as long as you have file the complaint within the time limit.

Related Constructive Dismissal FAQs:

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