Canada: Ne touchez pas à mes chromosomes! |L'Espace RH

Last Updated: September 6 2017
Article by Michael Adams

Au Canada, bon nombre d'employeurs exigent que leurs employés présents et futurs subissent des examens médicaux afin de déterminer leur capacité d'accomplir leur travail. Mais un employeur peut-il exiger que ses employés présents et futurs subissent un test génétique ou communiquent les résultats d'un tel test afin de déterminer, par exemple, leur capacité future d'accomplir leur travail? Le gouvernement fédéral a répondu à cette question par la négative. Le 4 mai 2017, est entrée en vigueur la Loi visant à interdire et à prévenir la discrimination génétique, également appelée Loi sur la non-discrimination génétique (ci-après, la « Loi »), qui a pour objet d'empêcher que les personnes atteintes de troubles génétiques ou génétiquement prédisposées à certaines maladies fassent l'objet de discrimination, notamment dans le cadre de leur emploi. La Loi met en Suvre trois changements législatifs importants :

  1. Elle édicte de nouvelles dispositions législatives interdisant à quiconque d'exiger qu'un individu subisse un test génétique ou communique les résultats d'un tel test dans différentes circonstances.
  2. Elle modifie le Code canadien du travail en y ajoutant des interdictions spécifiques visant les tests génétiques en lien avec l'emploi.
  3. Elle modifie la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne en y ajoutant les « caractéristiques génétiques » comme nouveau motif de distinction illicite, notamment en lien avec l'emploi.

La Loi sur la non-discrimination génétique

La Loi interdit de façon générale à quiconque d'obliger un individu à subir un test génétique comme condition préalable à: « fournir des biens ou des services », « conclure ou maintenir un contrat ou une entente » ou « offrir ou maintenir des conditions particulières dans le cadre d'un contrat ou d'une entente »1. En outre, si un individu subit un test génétique, il ne peut ni être obligé à communiquer les résultats de ce test, ni subir des représailles pour avoir refusé de les communiquer. Puisque la Loi ne contient aucune précision à cet égard, ces interdictions générales pourraient être interprétées comme s'appliquant aux contrats et aux ententes d'emploi.

Une contravention à la Loi peut être lourde de conséquences. Les contrevenants s'exposent à des amendes pouvant atteindre un million de dollars, et même une peine d'emprisonnement dont la durée maximale est de cinq ans.

Modifications apportées au Code canadien du travail

Afin de spécifiquement intégrer ces interdictions dans un contexte d'emploi, des modifications ont été apportées au Code canadien du travail afin d'interdire aux employeurs d'obliger leurs employés à subir un test génétique ou à en communiquer les résultats. Il est aussi désormais interdit aux employeurs d'imposer une mesure disciplinaire à un employé qui refuse de subir un test génétique ou d'en communiquer les résultats.

Dans l'éventualité où un employeur ne se conforme pas à ces dispositions, l'employé peut déposer une plainte auprès d'un inspecteur, qui peut la renvoyer à un arbitre, lequel peut ordonner l'annulation de toute mesure disciplinaire, la réintégration de l'employé et toute autre réparation qu'il juge appropriée.

Modifications apportées à la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne

La Loi a également introduit des modifications importantes à la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne. Les caractéristiques génétiques sont désormais considérées comme faisant partie des motifs de distinction illicite prévus par cette loi. Autrement dit, en plus des recours disponibles aux employés dans la Loi et dans le Code canadien du travail tel qu'amendé, les employeurs peuvent aussi être visés par une plainte devant la Commission canadienne des droits de la personne s'ils font prevue de discrimination à l'égard d'un employé actuel ou futur qui refuse de subir un test génétique ou d'en communiquer les résultats d'un tel test.

Conclusion

Ces modifications auront des répercussions importantes pour les employeurs de compétence fédérale, auxquels s'appliquent ces lois. En effet, les employeurs de compétence fédérale qui obligent leurs employés actuels ou futurs à subir un test génétique ou qui se fient aux résultats de tels tests pour prendre des décisions en matière d'embauche ou d'emploi devront modifier leurs pratiques.

Cela dit, la constitutionnalité de certaines parties de la Loi sera contestée. Le gouvernement du Québec a déjà fait part de son intention de saisir la Cour d'appel du Québec de cette question en faisant valoir qu'elle empiète sur la compétence des provinces en matière de propriété et de droits civils. Toutefois, il ne contestera pas les modifications apportées au Code canadien du travail et à la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne, qui ne s'appliquent qu'aux employeurs relevant de la compétence fédérale. Dans l'intervalle, la Loi reste en vigueur dans son intégralité.

Nous vous tiendrons au courant de tout développement concernant cette Loi.

Footnote

[1] Article 3.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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