Published In

Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2004

Subjects

workplace harassment; bullying; employment law

Abstract

For over twenty-five years, Canadian law has prohibited sexual harassment and other forms of discriminatory harassment (meaning harassment that relates to the target's race, disability, sexual orientation, or other similar characteristic). Recent amendments to the Quebec Labour Standards Act aim to fill a gap in the law that currently provides a remedy (under human rights legislation) for discriminatory harassment, but not for harassment that is not obviously linked to the target's membership in a protected class such as that based on race, sex, religion, disability or sexual orientation. This paper takes a preliminary look at this new legislative initiative. It first outlines briefly the minimal legal protections that existed in Quebec and throughout Canada before the psychological harassment law was introduced. It then describes key features of the law before examining some elements of the Quebec social and legal context that shaped the law and that may render the agenda less "exportable" to other Canadian and American jurisdictions. Finally, the paper suggests that it is worth considering the relationship between status-blind harassment and discriminatory harassment, as well as the effect of our attempts to address discriminatory harassment in current economic and political contexts, in an effort to see both the possibilities and potential pitfalls of this new legislative agenda.

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