Are you a victim of psychological or sexual harassment at work but hesitate to report it for fear of alienating your colleagues? Or do you worry that this will not be enough to stop the harassment? Here is a small process to deal with these situations.
Perhaps you believe that it is not legitimate to act against the person at fault, or that a formal denunciation would be superfluous, or even that a simple threat to report will suffice? Be aware that in Quebec and in Canada, companies are required to offer their staff a safe work
environment and to develop a policy for the prevention of harassment and violence in the workplace. Workplace harassment is prohibited under the Act respecting labour standards and the Canada Labour Code.
Harassment, which is any attempt to degrade, humiliate, embarrass or undermine the performance of others, should be taken seriously in all workplaces. Your whistleblowing is therefore legitimate. However, take the time to ask yourself if this is truly harassment – this document from the Canadian Government can help you decide.
Find the right resources
Although there are psychological techniques you can use to deter the person who is attacking — such as being insensitive to their manipulations and talking to them in a calm and rational way — you might need to go further.
Make an appointment with management, or, in cases where management is the source of harassment, speak to the designated human resources person, or any other contact person made available by your employer. If your job is unionized, you can contact your union representative. Present your case, ideally by having documented it with written evidence or witness, and demand that action be taken to curb these behaviours.
Take it to the next level
If nothing changes, you have the right to take your complaint to a higher level, for example by filing a written complaint with the Commission des normes du travail (in Quebec). The complaint can be filed online, by telephone or by mail. The Commission will investigate and, if necessary, take action against your employer.
In the rest of Canada, your complaint can be filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. In other cases, if the actions taken are criminal in nature, you may choose to file a complaint directly with the police.
The process could be painful, but it’s legitimate.