Psychological harassment




The Act Respecting Labour Standards defines psychological harassment as :


« Psychological harassment is characterized by a vexatious behaviour that is manifested by a repeated, hostile or undesired conduct, verbal expressions, acts that are to the physical or psychological detriment of the employee, and that creates an adverse work environment for the individual.


One isolated but serious incident may also constitue psychological harassment if it undermines the individual’s physical or psychological integrity, and produces a continuous and harmful effect for the employee. »


An Act Respecting Labour Standards, CQLR, c N-1.1, s 81.18



The criterias included in the definition :


Vexatious behaviour

This behaviour is humiliating, offensive or abusive for the person on the receiving end. It injures the person’s self-esteem and causes him anguish. It exceeds what a reasonable person considers appropriate within the context of his work.


Repetitive in nature

Considered on its own, a verbal comment, a gesture or a behaviour may seem innocent. It is the accumulation or all of these behaviours which may become harassment.


Verbal comments, gestures or behaviours that are hostile or unwanted

The comments, gestures or behaviours in question must be considered hostile or unwanted. If they are sexual in nature, they could be considered harassment even if the victim did not clearly express her or his refusal.


Affect the person's dignity or integrity

Psychological harassment has a negative effect on the person. The victim may feel put down, belittled, denigrated both at the personal and professional levels. The physical health of the harassed person may also suffer.


Harmful work environment

Psychological harassment makes the work environment harmful for the victim. The harassed person may, for example, be isolated from his colleagues due to the hostile verbal comments, gestures or behaviours towards him or concerning him.


Reference :



Examples of gestures of psychological harassment :


  • Offensive comments

  • Acts of intimidiation or retaliation

  • Rumours

  • Humiliation

  • Isolation

  • Teasing

  • Discrediting, etc.


What is not psychological harassment at work: personality conflicts, managerial rights, difficult working conditions, work related stress, etc.



Strategies to adopt when you think you are being psychologically harassed at work :


  • Clearly demonstrate to the presumed harasser your disagreement of the behavior;

  • Speak about it to your colleagues or to a trustworthy person;

  • Write a journal of events (places, dates, times, facts and gestures, witnesses);

  • Contact a support group.


Notice:This page is only informational; its content should not in any way be interpreted or considered as a full analysis of the law nor an opinion or a legal opinion of the author towards any specific case, or of one or several points of law mentioned above. Contact the appropriate authorities to get more information and to inquire about your eligibility and conditions that may apply.



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