Canada: Belyea v. Syncrude Canada Ltd., 2018 ABQB 132 La violence en milieu de travail : êtes-vous prêts?

Last Updated: July 27 2018
Article by Fasken Martineau

La mise en place de politiques rigoureuses, une communication efficace et des procédures d'enquête appropriées sont essentielles pour faire face à la violence en milieu de travail. La décision Belyea v. Syncrude Canada Ltd., l'illustre. Dans cette affaire, une dispute a éclaté entre deux employés – l'un ayant de l'ancienneté et l'autre, junior – après que le premier eut découvert le deuxième assis dans sa chaise favorite dans la salle à manger. À la suite d'une enquête approfondie, Syncrude a congédié l'employé ayant de l'ancienneté pour motif valable. Ce dernier a ensuite intenté une action en congédiement injustifié contre Syncrude.

Il va sans dire que la violence en milieu de travail est très préoccupante tant pour les employés que pour les employeurs.  Les employés ont droit à un milieu de travail sécuritaire et les employeurs ont l'obligation corrélative d'assurer la sécurité de leurs employés. Par conséquent, il est essentiel pour les employeurs de savoir comment réduire au minimum l'incidence de la violence en milieu de travail et quoi faire lorsqu'elle se produit. La gestion exemplaire par Syncrude de la situation dans cette affaire permet de tirer des leçons quant aux bonnes pratiques en matière de violence au travail. 

Les faits

M. B a travaillé pour Syncrude pendant 10 ans en tant que grutier. Durant cette période, il a reçu des évaluations de rendement positives et était considéré comme un employé de valeur. Il était consciencieux, assidu et participait activement à la réalisation des objectifs de son équipe. 

M. B avait cependant des antécédents d'agressivité au travail :

  • en 2003, il avait eu une altercation verbale inappropriée avec un autre employé pour laquelle il avait dû participer à une formation sur la gestion des conflits;
  • en 2006, il avait eu un différend avec un client;
  • en 2010, il avait affiché un comportement agressif envers un autre employé, après quoi il avait fait l'objet d'un plan de mesures disciplinaires correctives et on l'avait averti qu'il serait congédié s'il ne s'améliorait pas à cet égard. 

Environ un an s'est écoulé sans qu'un autre incident se produise. 

Puis, en 2012, alors qu'il entrait dans la salle à manger, M. B trouva un employé ayant moins d'ancienneté que lui assis dans sa chaîne préférée en train de dîner.  M. B a alors dit au jeune employé de se lever. L'employé a refusé.  M. B a alors menacé de faire une scène. L'employé a de nouveau refusé de se lever et M. B lui a lancé la chaîne de vélo et le cadenas qu'il avait dans les mains. La chaîne a frappé la main de l'employé et a cassé le contenant dans lequel se trouvait son repas, qui s'est retrouvé par terre. 

Après l'incident, Syncrude a mené une enquête. M. B a pu donner sa sa version des faits. De nombreux témoins ont été interviewés et enfin, M. B a eu l'occasion de prendre connaissance de la plainte déposée contre lui et d'y répondre.  Les enquêteurs ont conclu que la crédibilité de M. B était faible et qu'il avait enfreint la Politique sur le traitement des employés de Syncrude (la « PTE »).

Au terme de l'enquête, Syncrude a une fois de plus donné l'occasion à M. B de discuter de sa conduite. Ce dernier a de nouveau nié avoir eu ce comportement et n'a pas reconnu sa responsabilité par rapport aux événements. Syncrude a alors décidé de congédier M. B au motif qu'il avait enfreint la PTE. 

Congédiement pour motif valable : comment s'y retrouver

Dans le cadre d'une poursuite pour congédiement injustifié, il incombe à l'employeur de prouver que le congédiement est justifié. L'application des règles est tributaire du contexte, mais l'employeur doit démontrer que :

  • la nature et la fréquence du comportement justifient le congédiement; et
  •  les circonstances permettent de conclure que le lien de confiance au fondement de la relation d'emploi est irrémédiablement rompu. 

Étant donné l'importance que revêt le travail dans la vie et pour la subsistance d'une personne, un employeur ne doit pas congédier un employé pour motif valable à la légère. La décision de Syncrude de congédier M. B a néanmoins été entérinée pour les motifs suivants :

M. B avait enfreint la PTE, laquelle interdit clairement toute forme de violence;

  • M. B était au courant de cette politique, à laquelle on faisait référence dans sa lettre d'embauche et concernant laquelle il avait reçu plusieurs formations tant avant qu'après son embauche;
  • Des mesures disciplinaires progressives liées à l'agressivité de M. B avaient été imposées par Syncrude;
  • M. B n'a jamais accepté sa responsabilité ni démontré de remords quant aux évènements. 

Ensemble, ces facteurs ont permis à la Cour de conclure que le comportement de M. B avait miné la relation d'emploi à un point tel que l'employeur n'avait d'autre choix que de congédier M. B pour motif valable. 

À retenir:

  • Adoptez des politiques couvrant une multitude de cas de figure. Adoptez des politiques de violence en milieu de travail s'appliquant aux actes de violence de toute nature, qu'il s'agisse de menaces, d'une tentative de poser un geste violent ou d'un réel geste violent.
  • Portez la politique à la connaissance des employés. Le fait que l'employé congédié était au courant de la politique était important. Présentez la politique à l'employé au moment de l'offre d'emploi ou faites-y référence dans un contrat de travail. Offrez également de temps à autre de la formation à cet égard. Songez à afficher bien en vue dans le milieu de travail des avis qui font référence à la politique.
  • Soyez cohérent en matière de discipline progressive. Envisagez de mettre en place un programme selon lequel des mesures progressivement plus sévères sont prises lorsque la politique est violée. La politique devrait toujours réserver à l'employeur le droit de congédier immédiatement l'employé lorsque les circonstances le requièrent.
      
  • Effectuez une enquête exhaustive. Si un incident de violence survient au travail,  rencontrez rapidement toutes les parties ainsi que les témoins afin de recueillir leur version des faits. Permettez à l'employé visé par l'enquête de prendre connaissance des allégations à son encontre et d'y répondre.

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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