A client, supplier or work provider on a job site is harassing me
You may be experiencing a difficult situation with another person on a job site, whether a client, a supplier, a work provider or a consultant.
- A client makes inappropriate comments about your physical appearance each time he or she comes to check progress on the work.
- A work provider constantly criticizes your work. The person makes fun of you in front of the other workers and gives you degrading jobs to do.
- A supplier is unsatisfied with a situation on a job site. The supplier threatens to “smash your face in” if you don’t make the changes he wants.
This kind of behaviour has no place on a job site or anywhere else in your work environment.
The law protects you
You shouldn’t have to feel harassed, isolated, humiliated or threatened in the workplace. You have the right to a healthy work environment free of violence, harassment and discrimination.
No client, supplier, work provider or any other person on the job site has the right to harass you, threaten you or be violent toward you.
A client, supplier or work provider on a job site is harassing me
The law protects you against harassment in the workplace, even if the person harassing you works for another employer.
Psychological harassment is where the words, actions or behaviour of a client, supplier or work provider 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 incident can also be considered psychological harassment.
For example, a work provider criticizes your work whenever he or she gets the chance, saying that you’re too slow and you’d be better off just staying home. The person even belittles and insults you in front of other people.
Here are some other examples of behaviour that may be associated with psychological harassment:
- Discrediting a person: spreading false rumours about them, making fun of them, humiliating them.
- Preventing someone from expressing him or herself: 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 is repeated words, actions or behaviour by a client, supplier or work provider that are hostile, humiliating, unwanted and sexual in nature. It may take the form, for example, of unwanted advances or attention. These words, actions or 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, a co-worker asks you indiscrete questions about your romantic relationships. Or when walking by, he or she purposely touches or brushes against you. You have asked the person to stop, but they act as though 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 is when words, actions or behaviour by a client, supplier or work provider 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.
For example, a client, a supplier or a work provider repeatedly insults you or makes fun of your ethnic background or the fact that you are a woman.
Words, actions and behaviours can also be considered discriminatory if they have to do with your:
- Social condition
- Political beliefs
- Civil status
- Handicap or method used to cope with a handicap
- Gender identity or gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Race, colour and ethnic or national origin
Consult 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.
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?
You should inform your employer or the person designated by your employer, if you believe that you are the victim of psychological, sexual or discriminatory harassment in the workplace. Your employer is required to intervene when made aware of a harassment situation. The employer is also required to implement a harassment prevention and complaints handling policy.
You also have the following recourse:
- When the work is subject to the grievance procedure, you can contact your union to file a grievance.
- When the work is not subject to the grievance procedure, you can file a complaint with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST) if you believe you are the victim of psychological, sexual or discriminatory harassment. You can also file a complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) if you believe that you are the victim of discriminatory or sexual harassment. Each of these bodies can help you to determine what recourse is best in you situation.
- In all cases, whether the work is subject or not to the grievance procedure, you can file a claim with the CNESST if you had to be absent from work due to harassment that you suffered (for example: you were diagnosed with depression or post-traumatic shock, etc.).
You have the right to denounce a harassment situation. No one has the right to take punitive action against you because you filed a complaint.
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.
A client, supplier or work provider threatens me or is violent toward me
The behaviour of a client, supplier or work provider, on a job site or elsewhere may be criminal. You can file a complaint with the police if you believe that you have been a victim or witness of a crime.
The following are a few examples of criminal behaviour or acts.
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, a client threatens to hit you or wreck your equipment.
Using physical force against another person without their consent is against the law. When it occurs, it is considered an “assault”. You could be the victim of an assault even if you have suffered no physical injury.
For example, a supplier punches you or throws an object at you to hurt you or intimidate you.
Sexual assault involves any sexual activity that occurs without the consent of the other person. It could be a kiss, a caress or having sex. There doesn’t need to be physical violence or injuries.
For example, a client kisses you or touches your behind without your consent.
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, a work provider follows you everywhere you go or sends you messages several times a day despite the fact that you have told that person to stop.
Guidance service (discrimination, intimidation, and harassment) – People from diverse communities
To support the inclusion of people from underrepresented groups – women, people with handicaps, immigrants, visible minorities, First Nations people, and Inuit – the CCQ offers a dedicated and confidential guidance service towards resources for people who have witnessed or suffered discrimination, intimidation, and harassment against diversity, for the benefit of all, in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
Call 1 833 333-8003