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Quebec
Equal Employment Opportunity

Overview

Please review the information below and then return to the workplace harassment and violence prevention course.

Applicable Laws

Quebec is unique among the Canadian jurisdictions in its statutory treatment of harassment and violence in the workplace. The obligation to prevent harassment and violence in the workplace arises from general principles that are set out in the following legislation:

The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, CQLR, c. C-12.

The Act respecting labour standards, CQLR, c. N-1.1.

The Act respecting occupational health and safety, CQLR, c. S-2.1.

The Civil Code of Quebec, S.Q. 1991, c. 64.

Protected Grounds

Harassment or discrimination based on any ground set forth below is prohibited in Quebec.

  • Race,
  • colour,
  • sex,
  • gender identity or expression,
  • pregnancy,
  • sexual orientation,
  • civil status,
  • age except as provided by law,
  • religion,
  • political convictions,
  • language,
  • ethnic or national origin,
  • social condition,
  • a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.

Some provincial or territorial laws provide additional, separate standards and remedies for certain prohibited conduct, such as laws addressing equal pay without regard to sex or other protected ground.

Definitions of Harassment and Violence

Harassment

The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, CQLR, c. C-12, does not define the terms “harass” or “harassment”. However, the Charter stipulates that “no one may harass a person on the basis of any” of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Psychological Harassment

Under the Act respecting labour standards, CQLR, c. N-1.1, “psychological harassment” means either:

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; and

that results in a harmful work environment for the employee.This includes comments, actions or gestures of a sexual nature.

A single serious incidence of such behaviour that has a lasting harmful effect on an employee.

Violence can fall within the definition of psychological harassment under the Act where the harassing conduct fits into the either category.

The normal exercise by the employer of its management rights does not fall within the definition of psychological harassment.

The legislation does not distinguish between psychological harassment involving co-workers or psychological harassment that originates from others who may enter the workforce.

Violence

The term “violence” is not specifically defined in the Act respecting occupational health and safety, CQLR, c. S-2.1.

Filing a Claim in Quebec

A claim for employment discrimination or harassment based on a protected ground may be filed with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de ja jeunesse.

A claim related to workplace violence, including harassment, may be filed with the  Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail.

Retaliation Prohibited

Employer retaliation against an employee who files a complaint relating to harassment or workplace violence or is involved in the complaint process is unlawful.