Employer liable for Manulife’s human right’s violation.

On March 19, 2019, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that Manulife’s handling of a disability claim was “significantly flawed” (paragraph 36), amounting to a breach of Marianne Knight’s human rights. The Tribunal found that the employer,  Surrey Place Centre, “delegated” it’s responsibilities to Manulife. As Manulife was acting as the legal agent of the employer, it was the employer who was made to pay for Manulife’s conduct.

In Knight v. Surrey Place Centre, 2019 HRTO 482, the medical evidence showed that Ms. Knight was experiencing significant symptoms disabling her from work. These symptoms included tearfulness, poor sleep, poor concentration and facial muscle contractions with TMJ and dental complications, hair loss, and significant weight loss.

The Tribunal found that Ms. Knight’s GAF (global assessment of functioning) score of 51 indicates that ” … Dr. Lussier was of the opinion that the applicant was not functioning very well. As noted, a GAF score of 50 means “serious symptoms or any serious impairment in social occupational or school functioning”. The fact that the score was 51 and not 50 does not mean that the symptoms and impairment were fell in the moderate category associated with a score of 60.”

In the result, the Tribunal made the following order:  

[174] I order as follows:

a.   within 30 days of the date of this Decision, the respondent shall pay the applicant $15,000.00 as monetary compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect;

b.   post-judgment interest to be payable on any amount not paid within 30 days of the date of this Decision in accordance with the Courts of Justice Act; and

c.   within 120 days of the date of this Decision, the respondent shall review its contract with Manulife or any other insurer it may retain to assist in disability management to ensure that the requirements for entitlement to benefits under the respondent’s short-term and long-term disability programs are clear.