Canada: Le gouvernement fédéral dévoile son régime amélioré de prévention du harcèlement et de la violence dans les lieux de travail

Le 7 novembre 2017, l'honorable Patty Hajdu, ministre de l'Emploi, du Développement de la main-d'Suvre et du Travail, a annoncé le projet de loi C-65, la loi proposée par le gouvernement fédéral pour modifier le Code canadien du travail, la Loi sur les relations de travail au Parlement et la Loi n°1 d'exécution du budget de 2017. Le projet de loi C-65 a pour but de renforcer les lois actuelles visant à prévenir le harcèlement et la violence dans les lieux de travail sous réglementation fédérale, notamment le harcèlement et la violence qui sont de nature sexuelle.

L'annonce du projet de loi C-65 arrive à point nommé. Sur fond de multiples allégations de harcèlement et d'agressions sexuelles hautement médiatisées aux États-Unis ces jours-ci, ce projet de loi nous rappelle que, quels qu'ils soient, le harcèlement et la violence de nature sexuelle sont inacceptables dans les lieux de travail réglementés par le gouvernement fédéral, notamment sur la colline du Parlement. Le projet de loi comporte trois grands axes :

  • la prévention des incidents de harcèlement ou de violence;
  • la suite à donner de manière efficace à ces incidents lorsqu'ils surviennent;
  • le soutien aux victimes, aux survivants et aux employeurs dans le processus.

Prévention

L'approche proposée par le projet de loi C-65 vise à éliminer le harcèlement et la violence dans les lieux de travail sous réglementation fédérale en interdisant l'éventail complet des comportements qui sont inacceptables au travail et qui peuvent causer des accidents et des blessures et maladies, physiques ou psychologiques, liés à l'occupation d'un emploi. Le nouveau texte de loi se veut délibérément vaste et modifie le libellé du Code canadien du travail qui se limitait aux « accidents et maladies ». Le nouveau libellé a pour but d'englober tous les comportements, depuis les taquineries et l'intimidation jusqu'au harcèlement sexuel et à la violence physique ou sexuelle.

Réponse

Le projet de loi C-65 obligera également les employeurs assujettis à la réglementation fédérale à prendre des mesures concrètes pour prévenir et réprimer le harcèlement et la violence dans le lieu de travail. Ainsi, l'alinéa 125(1)c) du Code canadien du travail prévoit désormais l'obligation pour un employeur d'enquêter sur tous les accidents, tous les incidents de harcèlement ou de violence, toutes les maladies professionnelles ainsi que toutes les autres situations comportant des risques dont il a connaissance, de les enregistrer et de les signaler, par opposition aux accidents, maladies professionnelles et autres situations comportant des risques, plus limités. En outre, le projet de loi donne aux employés la possibilité de choisir entre divers processus de règlement non officiels ou de demander au ministre qu'il enquête sur des tiers, comme le prévoit le paragraphe 127.1(8) du Code canadien du travail. De fait, le projet de loi C-65 donne au ministre la possibilité d'abandonner une enquête si la plainte a été traitée comme il se doit dans le cadre d'une procédure prévue par les lois fédérales ou une convention collective, ou si la plainte est réputée « futile, frivole ou vexatoire ».

L'obligation actuelle qui incombe à l'employeur « de prendre les mesures prévues par les règlements pour prévenir et réprimer la violence dans le lieu de travail » est également étendue tel que le prévoit l'alinéa 125(1)z.16) du Code canadien du travail. Les employeurs sont en effet désormais tenus de prendre les mesures prévues par les règlements « pour prévenir et réprimer le harcèlement et la violence dans le lieu de travail, pour donner suite aux incidents de harcèlement et de violence dans le lieu de travail et pour offrir du soutien aux employés touchés par le harcèlement et la violence dans le lieu de travail ». La loi n'exige pas de sanctions ou de résultats particuliers en ce qui a trait aux harceleurs ou aux auteurs d'actes violents si les plaintes déposées contre eux sont fondées. En revanche, les employeurs devront mettre en pratique les recommandations que leur feront les enquêteurs chargés d'évaluer les plaintes. L'employeur qui ne se conformera pas aux nouvelles obligations légales s'exposera à des sanctions selon ce que prévoit le Code canadien du travail.

Soutien

Par ailleurs, le respect de la vie privée fait l'objet d'une attention nouvelle et importante dans le projet de loi C-65. Selon les modifications proposées, les employeurs et les fonctionnaires fédéraux ne peuvent s'abstenir de transmettre à un comité d'orientation, un comité local ou un représentant en santé et sécurité des « renseignements » qui sont susceptibles de révéler l'identité d'une personne qui signale un incident de harcèlement ou de violence, sauf avec le consentement de celle-ci. Il semble que l'objectif visé soit d'encourager les victimes potentielles à dénoncer leur agresseur et de les protéger contre d'éventuelles représailles.

Prochaines étapes

Le projet de loi C-65 est actuellement en première lecture à la Chambre des communes. Pendant que le projet de loi chemine dans le processus d'adoption législatif, les employeurs sous régime fédéral, autant publics que privés, pourraient souhaiter réviser leurs politiques et procédures actuelles pour déterminer s'ils devront y apporter des changements dans l'éventualité où le projet de loi était sanctionné. Nous continuerons de suivre le dossier et vous tiendrons au courant de son évolution. Pour tout conseil ou renseignement supplémentaire, veuillez communiquer avec votre avocat de BLG ou un membre de notre groupe Droit du travail et de l'emploi.

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