What the Act says

The Act respecting labour standards contains provisions on prohibited practices that protect the majority of Québec workers, whether they are full or part time.

An employer or his agent is prohibited from imposing sanctions on an employee under the following circumstances:

  • the employee is exercising one of his rights, for example claiming his wages
  • The employee has a right under Article 335 of the Quebec Elections Act
  • the employee has worked for at least 3 months for the same employer and is absent for a sick leave or following a crime
  • he has provided the Commission with information on the application of standards or has testified within the context of legal proceedings
  • a seizure by garnishment has been effected against him, for example by the Revenu Québec because he has not paid his income tax
  • he is a debtor of support and withholdings have been made from his wages to pay alimony
  • although he has taken reasonable steps to fulfill his family obligations, he has refused to work beyond his usual hours in order to see to:

    • the custody, health or education of his child or the child of his spouse
    • the health of his spouse, his father, his mother, a brother, a sister or one of his grandparents.

  • the employee denounced a wrongful act concerning the awarding, obtainment or execution of a contract in the public sector or assisted in an investigation or inquiry into said act
  • The employee contacted the Inspector General of the City of Montréal or collaborated in an inspection that the Inspector General conducted.

Nor does the employer or his agent have the right to impose sanctions on a female employee because she is pregnant.

Under these circumstances, the employer or his agent does not have the right to impose the following measures on an employee:

  • dismiss him
  • suspend him
  • transfer him
  • discriminate or exercise reprisals against him.

Although an employee has attained the age or the number of years of service required to retire, the Act prohibits his employer from:

  • dismissing him
  • suspending him
  • retiring him
  • exercising discriminatory measures or reprisals against him.

An employee may file a complaint with the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail if he believes that he has been the subject of one of these prohibited practices. If the employee files a complaint, it is up to him to show that little time had passed between the occurrence of the event and the imposing of the sanction. However, presumption works in the employee’s favour.

Time period

An employee who is the victim of a prohibited practice has 45 days from the imposing of the sanction to file a complaint with the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail.

For an employee who is forced to retire or who has a sanction imposed on him because he refuses to retire, the time period is 90 days.

Exceptions

The following employees are not entitled to the stipulated recourse when forced to retire:

  • an employee who works exclusively as a fireman and performs no other duties
  • an employee who is a member of the Sûreté du Québec.

A few definitions

Suspension

Temporary interruption of an employee’s work for a specified period, without severing his contract of employment. The employee may be deprived of his wages during this period. This generally involves a disciplinary sanction.

Transfer

Change in the conditions of employment. This may include reassignment to another workstation or another location, a significant reduction in the number of working hours, a reduction in wages, a substantial change of duties, a reduction in the level of responsibilities, etc.

Discriminatory measure

A measure, the effect of which is to distinguish an individual or a group of individuals from others. The measure is applied to the detriment of the individuals who are victims of the measure in such a way as to be detrimental to the employees in question.

Reprisal

Any vengeance measure taken against an employee following the exercise of one of his rights under the Act or for any other situation stipulated in section 122.

Exercise of a right

It is enough for the employee to show that he wishes to avail himself of an advantage stipulated in the Act in good faith and in apparent compliance with the law. In the case of an absence for sickness or accident, the employee must have been working for the same enterprise for at least 3 months and not have been absent for more than 26 weeks over a 12-month period.

Concomitance

Simultaneity relationship between two facts, two phenomena.

Presumption

Reasoning found in a law which constitutes a waiver of the need to submit evidence or which makes it possible to conclude, if the opposite is not proven, that the law was violated.

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