Sexual harassment denunciations last fall have led to a lot of awareness in the workplace. The complaints of psychological harassment have since taken over and there has been a flood of complaints that are pushing a large number of companies to take action to stop the phenomenon.
“People who talk to others with disrespect, who can scream, make violent gestures. Not necessarily physical, it can be slamming doors. When it’s an environment like that, it’s harassment,” explains Manon Poirier, Executive Director of the Order of Human Resources Advisors, whose primary mission is to protect Quebec employees.
The harassment argument as a “corporate culture” is “no longer acceptable” to Ms. Poirier. “No matter the industry, no matter the sector, it does not justify the lack of civility […]. In 60% of cases, [harassment] starts from a problem of lack of civility, “she adds.
Since last fall, Poirier has seen a rise in the level of sensitivity of companies on this subject.
This increase echoes the growing number of complaints filed.
In one year, complaints received by the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) for psychological harassment have increased.
We are talking about 4669 complaints in 2017, an increase of 269 complaints compared to 2016, and 647 complaints compared to 2011.
Different methods to help companies fight against psychological harassment
As a result, many employers are calling on the College to update their behavioral policies, but also to request internships or training to manage and identify this type of crisis.
Other companies seek the services of private investigators specialized in the workplace.
Anaïs Lacroix, a lawyer specializing in labor law, found that applications have exploded since last fall, so she decided to start her own business.
“We are absolutely overwhelmed, we are recruiting,” says the lawyer. The company places special emphasis on prevention and provides follow-up.
Requests come from all walks of life, from restaurants, shops, small and medium-sized businesses to multinationals. Surveys can take four to six weeks.
Since 2004, psychological harassment has been recognized by law in Quebec. Many companies have a code of conduct, but the workplace is changing very quickly, which is causing a lot of stress. Nobody is safe and it starts very often with a lack of courtesy and civility.
It is often difficult to define psychological harassment, which is why “there is a need for education […] and certain notions to be clarified,” adds Lacroix.
For Manon Lacroix, there lies the difficulty of investigations when there is a complaint. We have to “preserve reputations and pay attention to colleagues … we make sure to look for the right elements, to be rigorous in our method, to conclude whether or not there has been harassment,” she concludes.