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Quebec does not expect an increase in compensation for workplace harassment

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Minister Jean Boulet's Bill 42, which aims to prevent and combat psychological or sexual harassment at work, was adopted unanimously on Thursday in the National Assembly.

Patrice Bergeron – The Canadian Press in Quebec

March 24, 2024

  • Quebec

Quebec anticipates an increase in requests for appeal concerning psychological or sexual harassment at work, but without this being more costly in terms of compensation.

This is the estimate of the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet, following the adoption of his law to prevent and combat this type of harassment which is “extremely corrosive”, according to him.

According to Statistics Canada, practically one in two people in Quebec observed or experienced inappropriate or discriminatory sexualized behavior in the workplace in 2020 during the 12 months preceding the survey.< /p>

Bill 42 was adopted unanimously on Thursday, with the support of the opposition parties, but it remains to be sanctioned soon by the lieutenant-governor to come into force.

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  • Bill 42 does not sufficiently support victims of harassment, according to unions
  • The CNESST wants to better support victims of sexual harassment at work
  • Many workers distrust employers in harassment situations

In an interview with The Canadian Press broadcast on Sunday, Mr. Boulet stressed that his new legislation focuses on upstream prevention, but that it is “difficult to assess” whether there will be more or fewer complaints.

However, the trend is increasing. In 2022, the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) received no less than 4,909 requests for appeal concerning psychological or sexual harassment, compared to 4,398 in 2021.

“That does not mean that [the new law] will necessarily generate a significant number of new appeals, but in my opinion there will be an impact,” he commented.

“Recourse is when we cannot find land to accommodate the person. […] People who will not obtain fair compensation for the harm caused and who will take legal action, yes, we can anticipate that there will be more who will pull their heads above water. »

Because the new legislation first provides that in the event of denunciation, an “objective, neutral and impartial person” must investigate, to prevent and correct, and subsequently there can be the appeal stage.

The law protects against reprisals employees who make a report or who participate in processing the report of another employee. In fact, no less than 8 out of 10 people do not report because they are afraid of reprisals or losing their job.

The law also adds legal presumptions: this reduces the victim's burden of proof allowing recognition of an occupational injury, an illness, resulting from sexual violence suffered by a work colleague or a representative of the employer.

And from now on everyone will be subject to the obligation to prevent and put an end to harassment, that is to say not only the employer, but also a customer or supplier.< /p>

So if it is easier to denounce and file a complaint, and possibly to appeal to the CNESST, there will necessarily be more cases of compensation and the costs will be higher ?

Not necessarily, replies the minister.

The compensation agents and CNESST workers are already well trained so that support is provided to prevent people from being absent. Only in the event of absence will employees receive income replacement compensation.

“It’s a law of which I am extremely proud, we are becoming precursors,” summarized the minister.

“There are many major advances in the law to ensure that workplaces are healthy and safe. It sends the message that there is zero tolerance against psychological and sexual violence in the workplace, he concluded.

Note also that the law blocks the application of the controversial amnesty clauses which protected employees found responsible for psychological and sexual harassment after the expiration of a certain period of time.

Now, these clauses will no longer be able to prevent an employer from considering the employee's past behavior when imposing a disciplinary measure.

Finally, a specialized team of judges and conciliators will be set up at the Administrative Labor Court in matters of sexual violence, in order to provide measures to facilitate the process for victims.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116