CLAS successfully defends injured workers’ rights to benefits and a safe return to work

In March, I argued a judicial review about whether an injured worker was entitled to continue collecting temporary wage loss benefits after an attempted return to work worsened his workplace injury. 

Anthony Sooke was injured at work in 2011. Like most people would, he tried to return to work, but his injuries worsened as a result. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal found that he was entitled to continued benefits, on the basis of uncontradicted medical evidence that he was not fit to return to work until several weeks after the attempted return. However, Mr. Sooke’s employer applied for judicial review of this decision, arguing that he had frustrated the employer’s return to work policies when he left the worksite after six hours of modified work aggravated his injury.

CLAS represented Mr. Sooke on judicial review (Sooke v. Chinook Scaffolding Systems Ltd).  We argued that, irrespective of an employer’s policies, workers must not be forced to return to work that is unsafe in light of their injuries.  CLAS believes that a worker should be able to determine for him/herself if a modified return to work plan is appropriate.  Workers should not be punished for not returning to work until it is safe to do so.

Fortunately, the BC Supreme Court agreed.  The Court issued an oral judgment on March 28, 2014 in which it dismissed the employer’s judicial review.  As a result of this decision, Mr. Sooke will receive the wage loss benefits he is entitled to.