Psychological harassment in the workplace - Prevention remains the solution for Québec's employers!



    QUEBEC, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The Commission des normes du travail
underscores the third anniversary of the Act protecting employees against
harassment in the workplace, which entered into force on June 1, 2004.
    "Our three years of expertise have confirmed the importance and the value
of this avant-garde legislation, which banks notably on prevention to ensure a
work climate free from psychological harassment. However, in light of the
complaints received, we find that instances of reproachable conduct could have
been avoided if preventive measures had been put in place in these
undertakings," indicated Mr. André Brochu, Chairman-Executive Director.
    After three years of practice and some 6850 complaints filed by
non-unionized employees claiming that they were victims of psychological
harassment, the Commission des normes du travail has made three findings:

    
    - Half of the employees took unsuccessful steps in the undertaking before
      filing a complaint with the Commission, whereas 38 % of the other
      complainants did not report the situation to their employer before
      contacting the Commission.

    - In 75 % of the complaints filed by employees, the employer or one of
      his representatives is identified as being the alleged harasser.

    - 97 % of the complaints were settled within the context of the complaint
      processing procedure of the Commission des normes du travail and,
      consequently, very few are referred to the Commission des relations du
      travail.

    What lessons may be drawn from these results?

    "While the exercise of the management right was not limited by the entry
into force of the provisions concerning psychological harassment, it is
important to carefully distinguish between the normal exercise of the
management right and abuse of authority," explains Mr. Guy Poirier, Executive
Director of Legal Affairs at the Commission des normes du travail.
    In order to promote awareness among employers and employees about this
situation, the Commission is teaming up with the Ordre des conseillers en
ressources humaines et en relations industrielles du Québec to present the
fruit of its expertise at the symposium entitled Harcèlement psychologique ou
problèmes de gestion? (Psychological harassment or management problems?). The
content of these presentations will be available beginning on June 18th on the
Commission's web site at the following address: cnt.gouv.qc.ca/harcelement.

    Profile of the complaints:

    The data compiled from the 6,850 complaints received over the last three
    years show that:

    - 63 % of the individuals who file a complaint are women;

    - 95 % of the alleged psychological harassment situations were repetitive
      in nature;

    - 438 complaints were transferred to the Commission des relations du
      travail for hearing and decision. Of that number, close to half, namely
      202 complaints, have been settled;

    - One third of the complaints (33 %) end with an agreement between the
      parties (See the appended tables).

    Prevention campaign

    The Commission intends to continue its prevention and awareness promotion
efforts with employers and employees to clearly distinguish between the
management right, conflict and psychological harassment in the workplace.
    In addition to the tools and its web site: cnt.gouv.qc.ca/harcelement, a
tour of the various regions of Québec is planned in the fall.


    Assessment of the complaints received and settled at the Commission des
    normes du travail over the last three years:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     2004-2005      2005-2006      2006-2007
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Received during the period           2 067          2 687          2 098
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Settled during the period              863          2 199          2 610
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Number of complaints referred to the Commission des relations du travail
    (CRT)

    Since June 1, 2004, 438 complaints have been transferred to the CRT for
hearing and decision. Of that number, 202 individuals obtained an out-of-court
settlement.


    Breakdown of complaints according to the reasons for closing the file:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     2004-2005      2005-2006      2006-2007
    Reason:                         (10 months)    (12 months)    (12 months)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     No.     %      No.     %      No.     %
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Agreement between the parties    284   33%      826   38%      863   33%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Employee withdrew the complaint  255   29%      514   23%      531   20%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Decision of the investigator(1)  159   19%      555   25%      751   29%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Administrative closure(2)        165   19%      266   12%      302   12%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    After legal intervention           1     -       38    2%      163    6%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total                            863  100%     2199  100%    2 610  100%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    --------------------------

    (1) The investigator can close the file because the elements reported by
    the employee do not, on their very face, fall within the definition of
    psychological harassment or following an in-depth investigation. The
    employee has the right to request a review of the investigator's
    decision.
    (2) Administrative closures include inadmissible complaints (individuals
    not eligible for the recourse) and complaints referred to the CRT and for
    which the employees are represented by their attorneys. They also include
    complaints concerning employers who are bankrupt, insolvent or nowhere to
    be found, as well as files that are closed after several unsuccessful
    attempts to contact the employee.
    
    -%SU: LBR,SOC
    -%RE: 1




For further information:

For further information: Nathalie Bégin, Direction des communications,
(418) 525-1953; Requests for interviews: Dominique D'Anjou, Direction des
communications, (418) 380-2548

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