I am experiencing a difficult situation with my employer

I am experiencing a difficult situation with my employer

You might be experiencing a difficult situation with your employer, your supervisor or your foreman. For example:

  • Your employer gives you certain duties because you’re a women or the oldest person on the job site.
  • The job site foreman is continually shouting at you.
  • You took leave to which you were entitled in order to take care of your children. Since then, your employer tells you that you are no longer needed on the job site.
  • Your supervisor gives you less work or less important tasks because you’re a member of a smaller union in the region.

There is no place for this kind of behaviour, whether on the job site or elsewhere in your work environment.

The law protects you

You should never have to feel harassed, isolated, humiliated or threatened in the workplace. You have the right to a healthy work environment that is free of violence, harassment and discrimination.

An employer does not have the right to bully, intimidate or discriminate against you. Your employer must also respect your parental leave and your other parental rights. And your employer does not have the right to harass you, threaten you or act in a violent way towards you.

  • My employer treats my unfairly because I belong to a particular union

    You employer does not have the right to intimidate or discriminate against you because of your union membership.

    Intimidation

    Your employer cannot say or do things that isolate you and that are harmful to you because of the union you belong to. The employer cannot threaten you, penalize you or fire your because you are a member of a particular union. If your employer acts in this way, you are the victim of intimidation.

    For example, your employer cannot threaten to fire you because you’re a member of a smaller union.

    Discrimination

    Your employer cannot treat you differently from co-workers because you are the member of a particular union. If you employer does, you are being discriminated against.

    For example, your employer cannot purposely give you more difficult jobs because you’re a member of a certain union.

    What to do in the case of intimidation or discrimination?

    If you believe that you are the victim of intimidation or discrimination because of your union membership, you can file a complaint with one of the following organizations or with both:

  • My employer discriminates against me

    Your employer does not have the right to discriminate against you in your workplace. The employer cannot treat you differently or fire you because of your:

    • Age
    • Social condition
    • Political convictions
    • Civil status
    • Pregnancy
    • Handicap or method used to cope with a handicap
    • Gender identity or expression
    • Language
    • Sexual orientation
    • Race, colour, and ethnic or national origin
    • Religion
    • Gender

    See the website of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) for the definition of each of these motives for discrimination.

    For example, your employer cannot give you more dangerous jobs to do because you weren’t born in Québec or ask you to clean the job site trailer simply because you’re a woman.

    What to do in case of discrimination?

    If you believe that you are the victim of discrimination or were fired due to personal characteristics, you can file a complaint:

  • My employer does not respect my parental leave

    You are entitled to maternity or paternity leave when your child is born. This leave can be followed by parental leave. You are also entitled to parental leave for the adoption of a child.

    Your employer doesn’t have the right to punish you because you took leave to receive your child. For example, your employer cannot dismiss you, suspend you, transfer you to another position or discriminate against you.

    In such a case, you can denounce the situation:

    • When the work is subject to the grievance procedure, contact your union to file a grievance.
    • When the work is not subject to the grievance procedure, consult the website of the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) for more information on the complaints process.

    Your Other Rights as a Parent

    When the work is subject to the grievance procedure, your employer can, in some cases, allow you to adapt your work schedule if you need to take a child to a daycare or sitter and pick the child up. Contact your union for more information on this possibility.

    If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you have the right to a safe work environment. You could be eligible for the CNESST program “Pour une maternité sans danger” (for a safe maternity). Your employer must ensure that your workplace is safe. You could be entitled to stop working and receive compensation when it’s not possible to accommodate you. Consult the CNESST website for more information on this program.

  • My employer is harassing me

    The law protects you from harassment in the workplace.

    Psychological Harassment

    Psychological harassment occurs when you employer’s words, actions or behaviour are repeatedly hostile, humiliating or unwanted. These words, actions or behaviour affect your physical or psychological health and make your work environment an unhealthy one. Under these circumstances, a single serious event can also be considered psychological harassment.

    For example, your employer criticizes your work whenever he gets the chance. Or he says you’re too slow and you’d be better just to stay home. Or he puts you down in front of other people.

    The following are some other examples of behaviour that may be associated with psychological harassment:

    • Discrediting a person: not giving them any duties, giving them duties that are too easy or too difficult or denigrating a person in the presence of others.
    • Isolating someone: refusing to talk to them, ignoring their presence or keeping them away from others.
    • Slandering a person: spreading false rumours about them, making fun of them, humiliating them.
    • Preventing someone from expressing themselves: constantly cutting someone off when the person is trying to speak, ordering them not to speak or not including them in discussions.
    • Destabilizing someone: putting down a person’s choices or beliefs, making fun of the person’s weaknesses, doubting his or her judgment.

    Sexual Harassment

    Sexual harassment is repeated words, actions or behaviour by a co-worker that are hostile, humiliating, unwanted and sexual in nature. It may take the form, for example, of unwanted advances or attention. These words, actions and behaviour affect your physical and psychological health and make your work environment an unhealthy one. Under these circumstances, a single serious incident can also be considered sexual harassment.

    For example, your employer asks you indiscrete questions about your romantic relationships. Or when walking by by, he or she purposely touches or brushes against you. You have asked you employer to stop, but he or she acts like they didn’t hear you.

    Here are other examples of behaviour that may be associated with sexual harassment:

    • Making inappropriate remarks about someone’s physical appearance.
    • Whistling at someone in relation to their physical appearance.
    • Making sexual advances that the other person does not consent to.
    • Threatening someone who refuses one’s sexual advances.

    Discriminatory Harassment

    Discriminatory harassment is when words, actions or behaviour by a co-worker are repeatedly hostile, humiliating or unwanted and they are aimed at one or more of your personal characteristics.

    These words, actions and behaviours affect your physical and psychological health and make your work environment an unhealthy one. Under these circumstances, a single serious incident can also be considered discriminatory harassment.

    Words, actions and behaviours can also be considered discriminatory if they have to do with your:

    • Age
    • Social condition
    • Political beliefs
    • Civil status
    • Pregnancy
    • Handicap or method used to cope with a handicap
    • Gender identity or gender expression
    • Language
    • Sexual orientation
    • Race, colour and ethnic or national origin
    • Religion
    • Gender

    See the website of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) for a definition of each of the motives for discrimination.

    For example, your employer insults or repeatedly makes jokes about your ethnic background or the fact that you are a woman.

    Some other examples of behaviour that may be associated with discriminatory harassment:

    • Isolating a person because of their ethnic background.
    • Repeatedly making fun of someone’s handicap following their return to work after an accident.
    • Denigrating someone because of their language or their accent.
    • Making inappropriate comments about someone’s religion.
    • Spreading false rumours about a person in relation to their sexual orientation.

    What to do in case of harassment?

    If you believe that you have been a victim of psychological, sexual or discriminatory harassment by your employer, you can denounce the situation in order to have it stop:

    You have the right to denounce a harassment situation. Your employer does not have the right to take punitive action against you because you filed a complaint against the employer.

    Requesting the involvement of a CNESST inspector

    You can request that a CNESST inspector visit your job site or workplace when you believe you have been the victim of harassment. The inspector can, among other things, check to see if measures exist to prevent and put an end to the harassment in your workplace.

    For more information about the procedure, consult the CNESST website.

  • My employer threatens me or is violent toward me

    The behaviour of your employer on a job site or elsewhere may be considered criminal. You can file a complaint with the police if you believe that you have been the victim or witness of a crime.

    The following are some examples of acts that are criminal in nature.

    Threats

    Threatening to kill or hurt someone or to damage their property is forbidden under the Criminal Code. A person does not have to execute their threat for it to be considered a crime.

    For example, your employer threatens to hit you or wreck your equipment.

    Assault

    Using physical force against another person without their consent is against the law. When this occurs, it is considered an “assault”. You could be the victim of an assault even if you have suffered no physical injury.

    For example, your employer punches you or throws an object at you in order to hurt you.

    File a complaint with the police

    Sexual Assault Sexual assault involves any sexual activity that occurs without the consent of the person being assaulted. It could be a kiss, a caress or having sex. There doesn’t need to be physical violence or injury.

    For example, your employer kisses you or touches your behind without your consent.

    Criminal Harassment

    Criminal harassment is where a person acts in such a way as to make you fear for your safety and the person continues to do so even though they know you feel harassed.

    For example, your employer follows you everywhere you go or sends you messages several times a day despite the fact that you have told the employer to stop.

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