Quebec Law Targets Workplace Bullies

Reformed employment standards prohibit ‘vexatious behaviour’

Quebec employers will have one year to prepare for a groundbreaking employment-law reform that sets its sights on exposing and penalizing workplace bullies. In June 2004, workers may file complaints with the province’s Labour Standards Commission alleging “psychological harassment” at work. The legislation defines such harassment as “any vexatious behaviour — in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures — that affects an employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity.”

Employers are expected to have in place policies and procedures to deal with complaints and to provide training for employees to help them understand and identify vexatious behaviour in the workplace. Those who cannot demonstrate to the commission that they have taken “reasonable” steps to prohibit workplace bullying can be penalized in various ways — from beingforced to pay for a victim’s counseling sessions to “punitive and moral damages.”

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