December 11, 2023

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The Alberta Human Rights Fee has dominated towards a former firefighter with Syncrude who claimed the oilsands firm did not accommodate his post-traumatic stress dysfunction and fired him after his analysis.

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Michael Swan joined Syncrude’s hearth division in 2007 after spending 5 years as a heavy gear operator. Swan was identified with PTSD in 2016 and went on medical depart. In his criticism, Swan mentioned he by no means felt supported by Syncrude as he handled PTSD.

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The fee’s determination, which was printed July 26, agreed Swan’s incapacity was a consider his termination and a prima facie case for discrimination. The fee additionally dominated “the discriminatory conduct was justified” as a result of Syncrude couldn’t accommodate Swan’s incapacity.

Given the non-public circumstances of [Swan], I discover that there are causes to sympathize with him on this case,” dominated the fee.

“Nonetheless, wanting on the totally of the proof and circumstances of this case, I discover that [Syncrude] adopted their gradual return to work method in good religion and that their method, although apparently harsh at instances, was needed for the work-related function.”

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In 2017 Swan started attending a Traumatic Psychological Harm (TPI) therapy program. Across the similar time, Syncrude wished Swan to attend an Unbiased Medical Examination (IME). Swan and his physician felt it was too early for an IME.

Swan went via the method and felt Syncrude’s involvement with the IME worsened his PTSD. Syncrude additionally wished to know when Swan may return to work by February 2018. This triggered stress as Swan was present process therapy, and he felt Syncrude was pressuring him to return to work earlier than he was prepared.

Swan’s advantages beneath Syncrude’s Non permanent Incapacity Plan have been suspended when he didn’t return to work in February 2018. Swan mentioned he was not prepared. Syncrude informed Swan he could be fired if he was not working by August 2018. Swan didn’t report back to work and was fired in September. He filed his human rights criticism in December 2018.

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michael swan
Former Syyncrude firefighter Michael Swan and his service canine Jack in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

In a January 2019 interview with The Canadian Press, Swan mentioned his PTSD constructed up over years on the job. As a firefighter he responded to every little thing from accidents and diseases to an explosion on web site.

Swan mentioned the tipping level was when his then-fiancee left him, telling him she by no means knew what would set him off. His captain discovered him crying by an ambulance at work and instructed he get assist via an organization program.

“It was ineffective,” he informed The Canadian Press on the time. “They wished me to eat a salad and get some sleep.”

The fee discovered Syncrude wished to work on a plan to get Swan again to work. Syncrude was additionally criticized for speeding selections with out consulting Swan’s therapy plan.

The fee’s findings famous Syncrude supplied Swan a desk job at their Aurora operations north of Fort McMurray. This job concerned publicity remedy to deal with PTSD. Swan additionally noticed Fort McMurray as a set off for his PTSD.

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The Employees’ Compensation Board (WCB) instructed Swan do modified duties elsewhere. The one out there job was at their Calgary workplace, however Swan wanted retraining in administrative and pc database work. The place additionally wanted oversight, which Syncrude was unable to supply on the time.

“The respondent has demonstrated that it couldn’t accommodate the complainant with out struggling undue hardship,” concluded the fee’s findings.

-with information from The Canadian Press

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